The Giro d’Italia, or the Corsa Rosa, is the first men’s Grand Tour of the year and it is an exciting one. Pro cycling’s newest rivalry is set to bring its drama to Italy over three weeks starting on Saturday 6th May and finishing on Sunday 28th May.
A backloaded course with lots of time-trial kilometres – including a Stage 20 mountain TT – should mean it’s tense until the end and there’ll be a big race for the final podium spot as well as the maglia rosa, and who knows, someone could shock the world and upset the two favourites.
So, who is expected to challenge for the Giro d’Italia general classification and who are the dark horses?
Giro d’Italia 2023 favourites
It’s a two-horse race, and this rivalry is brewing up very nicely.
It seems a lifetime since Primož Roglič was only minutes away from being crowned Tour de France champion only for Tadej Pogačar and La Planche des Belles Filles to come along. Roglič has been troubled by injury since then, derailing two Tours de France and a Vuelta, but he’s only 33, he’s in his prime, so there’s no reason to think he’s still at the top of the sport when fully healthy.
So far this year he’s ridden two races: Tirreno-Adriatico and Volta a Catalunya and won them both, so barring incident it looks like we’ve got a fully firing Rogla on our hands once more, which is excellent news for not just this race but the sport in general. While Covid is making light work of ripping his team to shreds, Jumbo-Visma are the deepest squad in men’s cycling, with Sepp Kuss alone more than enough to see off most competitors in the mountains.
It was Pog and Rog, now it’s Rog and Remco. While Roglič’s compatriot has found a new rival in Roglič’s teammate, Primož new foe is a very young and a very hungry Belgian. Remco Evenepoel proved the hype at the Vuelta a España in 2022, leading the race from Stage 6 all the way to the end and looked the part too. Now World Champion, he won the UAE Tour earlier this year before getting pipped by Roglič in Catalunya and then dominating Liège-Bastogne-Liège for the second year running.
He’s clearly in incredible shape and is supremely confident – not hindered by the rainbow bands; his Soudal-QuickStep team are now built for him tpp, so it should be mano a mano to decide who wins pink. Three time-trials suit Evenepoel, and Roglič will certainly have nightmares going into that mountain TT, but it should be close. Let’s pray for no crashes.
Giro d’Italia 2023 outside bets
Who could spring a surprise? There are a few worthy contenders vying for a podium that could maybe sneak something more.
Tao Geoghegan Hart, Geraint Thomas
It might seem like a different era, but Tao Geoghegan Hart won the Giro d’Italia only two and a half years ago. That’s more recently than Roglič almost winning the Tour. And Geraint Thomas won the Tour in 2018 and was comfortably third in last year’s edition behind Vingegaard and Pogačar.
Ineos’s Giro pairing feels like their first chance at tasting Grand Tour success since Egan Bernal won the Giro in 2021. While Thomas hasn’t done much so far this year, the parcours suits him and he could well be playing down his chances. Geoghegan Hart meanwhile has been consistently good this year after a couple of seasons of bad luck, he dominated the Tour of the Alps in April and wasn’t far behind Roglič at Tirreno.
Sprint Cycling Agency via UAE Team Emirates
Even closer to Roglič at Tirreno and just behind both our favourites at Catalunya was João Almeida. Evenepoel’s former teammate, Almeida loves the Giro, and again this year’s route suits him too. He has a strong TT and never gives up, he was close to bagging himself a podium spot here in 2022 before Covid took him out on Stage 18, this must be his year.
Jack Haig, Damiano Caruso
Down another tier is Bahrain Victorious’s Jack Haig and Damiano Caruso, both previous Grand Tour podium finishers, but without big results recently and especially up against this competition. It’s likely one or both will win a stage or the mountains classification but they’ll be going for top five you’d think.
Sprint Cycling Agency via Bora-Hansgrohe
Bora-Hansgrohe’s best shot at retaining the maglia rosa is Aleksandr Vlasov, who has been on the cusp of competing for Grand Tours for a few years, finding success in a few shorter stage races but never truly challenging over three weeks, his best result fourth at the 2021 Giro. With the experience of his team and another year in the legs could 2023 be when he steps up? Probably not.
Hugh Carthy, Rigoberto Urán
EF Education-EasyPost also have two former Grand Tour podium finishers, although Rigo seems like he’s Uràn his race and Carthy hasn’t ever rediscovered the form of his outstanding 2020 Vuelta. Second at the Tour of the Alps last month for the Preston lad, could this finally be his return to the upper echelons? Again, it’s unlikely.
The Cyclist prediction
Primo, it’s Primož Roglič time, sorry Belgians. All Rog needs to do is stay upright and healthy and this race is his. Lots of TT kilometres play in Evenepoel’s favour but as we saw in Catalunya, Roglič is a step above Remco right now and won’t lose as much time in time-trials as he gains in the big mountains.
There’s a reason we previously saw Roglič and Tadej Pogačar as a level above everyone else, it’s just that we’ve not seen a fully healthy Rog in a long time, and he’s in prime position to prove his talent at the Giro.
The battle for the final podium spot will be really interesting, and I think Thomas has it (another case of staying upright and healthy) with João Almeida and Tao Geoghegan Hart just behind.
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Tags: Geraint ThomasGiro d’ItaliaIneos GrenadiersJumbo-VismaPrimož RogličRemco EvenepoelSoudal-QuickStepTao Geoghegan Hart