Giro d’Italia Preview

A look at the contenders and pretenders for the 2023 Giro d’Italia. This year’s edition seems to open with two questions. Who will finish first between Remco Evenepoel and Primož Roglič, and who will finish third?

This the picture today and so often the Giro is an optical illusion that reveals a different form later. We’ll revisit and revise the contenders and their outlook on each of the rest days.

A reminder of the route. Three time trial stages totalling over 70km, the first two are flat and the last has a savage climb (pending news on any revision), it’s the most kilometres solo against the clock since 2013 although let’s not exaggerate as recent years have come close, this defining feature of the first two time trials is how they’re almost dragster courses to reward people who can turn a 58T chainring, local riders whose name rhymes with panna even. As ever the mountains build in intensity, there are summit finishes in the first week but it’s the third week that should prove decisive with the gigantic Alpine stages, weather permitting. You’ll find more detail on all the stages at There are time bonuses of 10-6-4 seconds for the road stages.

Never say Remco Evenepoel (Soudal-Quickstep) doesn’t know what he wants. It’s victory in all three grand tours, the world championship title and Liège-Bastogne-Liège. Despite this prodigious challenge, he’s ticking off the bucket list with ease. He’s the form pick, having won again in Liège by riding the entire field off his wheel. When he won the Vuelta last year, he put 48 seconds into Roglič in the 30km time trial and 1-2 minutes into the other GC rivals. So this year with Stages 1 and 9 totalling 49km he’s got terrain to suit, even if Roglič was on the back foot back then. Plus unlike many who say they’ll take things “day by day”, he’s saying stronger than he was in the Vuelta and has made gains in the time trials too so he’s here to win. And yet… there are still questions. The team are solid and in brief glimpses in the Ardennes seem to have raised their game but they’re not fierce, they can defend but other teams will fancy their chances. Evenepoel’s Vuelta win was comprehensive but last year’s edition was unusually front-loaded, he built up a cushion early. Then on the longer climbs later on he proved beatable, now he’ll face far more climbing with even longer ascents later this month. He enjoyed Goldilocks weather, neither too hot nor too cold so the Alpine week could be a challenge if the weather turns grim. Plus he’s under pressure, if things fall apart he might find it hard to stay focussed, especially as there’s every chance there’s more Belgian media at the race than Italian. This may all sound like blogger culo-covering but they’re genuine tests for a rider still discovering plenty about himself, he ought to pass them, and has to if he wants a Tour win to complete the set but this Giro can also be about lessons and there’s more than a hint of hubris although he’s probably just confident.

Primož Roglič is form unknown and so the reputation pick, although team mate Sep Kuss says he’s in his best shape, but he would say that. Roglič showed up, then cleaned up in Tirreno-Adriatico and took the Volta a Catalunya too and it was hardly news, he’s a stage racing cyborg who has thrived in one week races. A three times Vuelta winner shows he can do the distance, yet the Giro and Tour have been his undoing. One thing in Roglič’s past is a tendency to fade in grand tours, his last tilt at the Giro came after he won the UAE Tour, Tirreno and Romandie, no wonder he was rinsed for the third week, ditto his Planche implosion followed winning the Tour de l’Ain and crashing out of the Dauphiné; which brings us to the more recent fashion as he’s abandoned three out of the last four grand tours. He’s had further bad luck before turning a pedal this time with lieutenants Wilco Kelderman injured, a flurry of Covid cases this week and hardly like-for-like replacements. Excellent in the time trials, Roglič’s trump card is his jump, he can sprint for uphill stage wins and harvest time bonuses and it’s where he’ll hope to gain time on Evenepoel and the rest; a corollary is that Jumbo-Visma are likely to mow down the breakaways to set up their leader although there aren’t that many spiky finishes he excels in. For all Roglič’s physiological attributes, there’s psychology too. Evenepoel may seem relaxed these days but Roglič was able to get under his skin in the Volta a Catalunya and the next three weeks allows plenty of time for the stoic Slovenian to make subcutaneous provocation.

Now for all the others. The quote often attributed to Napoleon of “never interrupt your enemy while he is making a mistake” comes to mind. The focus on two riders means the burden of the race falls implicitly on Soudal-Quickstep and Jumbo-Visma while other teams can sit back and toil for two weeks or more. Passive? Yes but the big prize is winning in Rome, not bossing the second week; plus it’s realistic given the performances of Evenepoel and Roglič; and the Giro does throw up surprises, see Richard Carapaz riding away on the Colle San Carlo while Vincenzo Nibali and Primož Roglič marked each other.

Ineos start with four riders who could each lead other teams and arguably the strongest squad in the race. Geraint Thomas and Tao Geoghegan Hart lead the team and Thymen Arensman and Pavel Sivakov give them two more options. Thomas makes his third bid to win after being thwarted by two crashes, otherwise he is dependable although his steady ride to the podium in last summer’s Tour de France came after victory in the Tour de Suisse weeks before, his level today less reassuring as he’s been chasing form and nowhere near to winning but he’ll hope he can bide his time until the third week, think Aesop’s Tortoise. Geoghegan Hart has been victorious, winning the Tour of the Alps and doing this by climbing well and sprinting for stage wins; but as we saw in Tirreno, whatever he could do, Roglič could do better. But again he’ll pounce if the Big Two flounce. Arensman is still a work-in-progress while Sivakov could – and perhaps will – lead for another team but is more likely to be a mountain sherpa. It’s worth mentioning a fifth rider, Filippo Ganna as he could win the opening stage but on other days he’s a circus strongman capable of bending the race to his will. Collectively the team could tear the race apart, or try, but they have a tendency to defend, riding in train formation as we saw in the Tour of the Alps recently. But if there’s nothing to defend in the third week, none of them are in the top-three, then things could get lively.

UAE bring an interesting team with talents who get to shine when Pogačar isn’t racing. João Almeida made a name for himself in the Giro with a long spell in the maglia rosa back in 2020 when he seemed a punchy rider perhaps limited in the high mountains. Now he’s almost the opposite, a diesel who might be dropped on a climb if the pace is too high at the start but winches his way back into contention. This is commendably consistent but it’s unlikely to win the Giro, he’ll need to recover the old punch and he keeps improving and is a formidable challenger. Talking of improvement Jay Vine is the one of the most interesting riders in the race because his rise up the ranks hasn’t finished. A Zwift competition winner, a Vuelta stage last year after just riding away from Evenepoel et al and since, a Tour Down Under win and the Aussie TT title. January’s antipodean antics might not seem big but it quietly signalled a lot: time trial gains, leadership, managing the media and Vine flourished although since he’s been dogged by injury but won’t be starting if this isn’t resolved, he too could be a revelation. Brandon McNulty gives the team a third option, he’s good in time trials but would surely sign today for a top-5.

Bora-hansgrohe come with two leaders in Aleksandr Vlasov and Lennard Kämna. Do you remember Vlasov’s performance in the Tour de France last summer? Fifth, impressive but he was rarely a protagonist and so many might have been scratching their head trying to recall the answer. He’s a steady rider, also fourth in the 2021 Giro, and good in time trials so it’s easy to see him in the top-5 again, but how to win? If Jai Hindley won the Giro last year, Kämna’s role was instrumental, easing up from the breakaway on the Marmolada to give Hindley a tow as Richard Carapaz cracked. This year Kämna is aiming for GC rather than breakaways and stages and he’s a versatile rider, a former junior world champ in the TT, punchy on the climbs and good on the long ascents too. A recent documentary on German TV featured Kämna talking about pressure and expectation but he’s growing into the role and now wants to make the breakthrough as a consistent GC contender. He could be the surprise of this race.

Bahrain come with a strong team. Santiago Buitrago had a great third week last year, including a stage win but he’s a climber and even if the form looks improved on last year he’ll lose mucho time. Jack Haig and Damiano Caruso are solid riders but not spectacular with few wins between them, they’ll be riding steady like tightrope artists hoping they don’t slip off the overall classification. With Haig set on GC, Caruso might be tempted to chase a stage win.

Among other outsiders, Hugh Carthy leads EF Education and such is his honest, self-deprecating style he’d probably be the first to say he’s unlikely to win but he is consistent and durable while Ben Healy starts his first grand tour and will be interesting to watch, he looks like a pure climber but is very able in time trials, this course could help him beat other contenders to a high position but it’s his first grand tour the question is keeping fresh after a busy season already, while Rigo Uran was a Giro contender but it’s probably his last season and he’s less consistent. Another retiree is Thibaut Pinot (Groupama-FDJ) who has said he wants a high GC finish and in his peak moments he’s been excellent against the clock but look closely and they’ve been on hilly courses, this route doesn’t suit with so many flat time trials, he’ll be on the back foot and perhaps he’d settle for a stage win, albeit one by attacking the lead group one day in the mountains and cashing in those TT loses for space to move but he’ll wait for the third week and if the weather’s grim he’ll be rubbing his hands… and not just to warm them.

Remco Evenepoel
Primož Roglič
Almeida, Geoghegan Hart, Kämna
Vlasov, Thomas, Vine, Pinot

58 thoughts on “Giro d’Italia Preview”

  1. I really hope both Evenepoel and Roglic get to the finish (or neither of them do). If only one of them does, this could be a damp squib.

    And hopefully Roglic realises that he has to attack Evenepoel in the mountains – and attack early in stages. Long mountain stages could – only could – be Evenepoel’s comparative weakness, and Roglic should have well over a minute to make up after the two ITTs.

    I think it’ll be Evenepoel as Roglic so often weakens or falls off before the end of a three-week race.

    I think those two will have to fail to finish or foul-up terribly for someone else to win. But as IR notes here it does happen: Nibali must rue his decision to bicker with Roglic rather than chase down Carapaz in 2019.

  2. I suspect that Evenopoel will be praying for Ganna to win the first time trial.
    Evenopoel and Roglic both seem to be primed and very determined so it should be a knock down, drag out affair.
    If Vine were to drop only 20 seconds or so in the first time trial there could be a joker in the pack but that is far more easily said than done.

  3. IR picks Evenepoel but every time I switch on Belgian RTBF television he’s eating another large portion of pizza in publicity for Pizza Hut. If I believed in his pizza eating habit he wouldn’t be my favourite for the Giro but I don’t. A good choice from IR and Evenepoel, like many cyclists, must be another who measures his food intake – at least in season – to the gram. Do Belgian pizza eaters really think Remco is one of them?

      • Valverde actually never dropped his habit of taking a daily couple of beers, his “recovery drink”, he says.
        A decent pizza (not Pizza Hut, I’m afraid) would be fair carbo-loading with little negative side-effects, so why not?
        Of course, what most people have in mind when thinking about pizza, well, isn’t pizza, just being called so.

        • Dead on Gabriele! I remember being fed some real garbage back when we followed LeTour around – we started describing it as a “pizza-like substance”. Counting the days until Napoli so I can again enjoy the real thing – though we DO have a pretty good Neopolitan-style place 5 minutes from my front door 🙂

    • He’ll be sure to be asked. Italian TV interviews can be a bit cringeworthy, along the lines of “do you like Italy?” (what is he supposed to say?) plus Italians might have thoughts about Pizza Hut although most won’t have heard of it as it doesn’t exist.

    • Pizza is good but in the late 70’s or early 80’s as the story goes multiple Australian champion john Trevorrow (who was out of shape at the time) got caught smoking at the giro so the industrious team owner managed to get some cigarette sponsorship. Even though i think it was against the rules to have such sponsorship at the time.

  4. Lovely bit of alliteration to end the Roglic paragraph. Looking forward to the race, hoping for a close battle between the 2 aliens, and hopefully someone else can get involved.

  5. Thanks for the preview. As others have said I hope Roglic can safely navigate the first week or so! If he can get to week 3 with little under a minutes deficit to Remco then I think he would fancy his chances and would set up a great finale.

  6. I’m surprised to see S Yates is not in the Jayco team for the Giro. He’s listed for the TdF but as the provisional TdF squad includes also Mezgec, Groenewegen and Mathews, that seems to rule out any support for a GC bid. If he had been selected for the Giro and been given some support he could have been favourite for third place, or better if something went wrong for Evenepoel or Roglic.

  7. Roglic’s weaker covid free team will be his downfall, even if he doesnt fall. Remco could suffer a little on the big mountain stages, if he suffers a lot, 3 of the UAE and 2 Bora riders will have a shot. If Remco is strong all the way, watching the Giro will be like riding on a slow leaking tire. But riders fighting for 2nd or 3rd may be interesting.
    Still, I hope for a close exciting battle between Remco and Roglic.

  8. A lot of riders I like in this race…

    Would love Pinot to win simply because I like him but obviously unlikely especially without the amount of Time Trialling.

    Would love Tao to win so his victory wasn’t (unfairly) remembered by some as a fluke, although again expect podium would be his ceiling.

    Would like Almeida to well as I admire his grit and perseverance but if he beats Remco that will be enough, as I still think QS’ treatment of him on the gravel stage a few years back was disgraceful.

    Would like Rog to win because he’s such a great guy and will never win the TDF now so deserves a grand tour beyond his four Vueltas.

    Would like Uran to do well and if somehow the race goes crazy and he wins that would be no more than he deserves for a great career where he’s been overshadowed by Quintana and Bernal but in truth been more consistent than both.

    Don’t see Vlasov, Kamna, Carthy as more than Top10 contenders so find it a little difficult to get excited by any, and Geraint is great but has a TDF already so happier to see others win.

    Possibly most interested in Vine, as he’s the only true wild card as I see it who could potentially surprise the duopoly of Remco and Roglic if he climbs as well as he hinted at last year.

    Remco is the only rider I’d be happy to see not win. He’s probably not as bad as he comes across but the hints of arrogance through his career (the gravel stage in his previous Giro, pushing Turner out the way last year etc) and his style (he just feels like a tank to me) make me struggle to like him, so hoping he comes up short! Sorry Remco fans.

    • Nice! This seems to go a nailbiter way for you, happy with a lot of final results, but the only one which would be disappointing is being considered by many as the most probable one, too (although I don’t see it as easy as most commenters do, the Giro is no Vuelta). It’s going to be emotional watching.

      As a sidenote, I’d be curious to know how Urán’s career (I rider I hugely appreciate) can be seen as “more consistent” than Nairo’s (including Bernal in the list is a bit harsh on him, but that’s a different story). It looks quite much the other way around. The three of them are great professionals, anyway and I like them all as cyclists.

    • Remco’s tankness is one of the reasons I like him. He has a quite muscular look. You could almost say looks like a normal fit young man for his age, and wouldn’t look out of place playing football or tennis. As opposed to Ben Healy, Sivakov or Hugh Carthy who wouldn’t look out of place as jockeys, snooker cues or flags on golf courses.

      • Pinot looks normal too. No drawn face, even a vague ‘tankness’, and he doesn’t sound obsessed by cycling but has other passions. Allez Thibaut!

        • Pinot is so unfussed about procycling that he’s still on his smaller brother’s bike.

          How that guy has been allowed to go so long with such a bad bike fit and with repeated back problems just makes me cringe.

      • Healy? Why Healy? His BMI is far from being as shocking as the other two guys, and listed at 65 kg for 175 cm he doesn’t look shockingly small or thin, either. A “big head effect”, maybe? (À la Purito, who wasn’t that, tall anyway).

        …and in tennis, speaking of Italy, you’ve got Jannik Sinner who might look like, well, a cyclist ^___^

  9. I see from Pro Cycling Stats that Evenepoel has the number 1. I know Hindley isn’t riding the Giro but I thought usually if a defending champion wasn’t in a race then his team got the number 1. So does anyone know why Evenepoel has number 1 rather than one of the Bora riders?

    • There’s no rule here, just convention.

      It’s probably something less visible outside of Italy but at the race Evenepoel is the real guest star at the Giro and organisers RCS want to do everything to put him on a pedestal / red carpet so that they can sell the race as having a superstar, the world champion etc.

      • I wouldn’t put it past RCS to be giving a middle-finger to Bora for not having Hindley try to defend his title, something very tough to do. OTOH I thought Tao Geoghegan Hart got the short end in the rider presentation. Mr. G hasn’t done squat while TGH is the only guy in the race who has won it, right? I hate INEOS but I’m starting to hope TGH can at least take over leadership of the team before they get to Rome.
        Finally, am I the only one who finds it odd the USA teams in this race have zero USA riders on ’em? It’s not like there aren’t any good riders but they’re all on teams from other countries. What’s-a-matter with Trek and EF?!?!

        • Trek has never really been a US-based team, they have just selected their nationality (i.e. the flag icon for the TV graphics, nothing more) as USA because it is where the owner/sponsor has their HQ and largest market.

          Segafredo are pulling out as the secondary naming sponsor and being replaced by Lidl who will be paying bigger bucks for the primary naming rights. This may see the nationality change again, depending on whether Lidl are taking up the sponsorship for the purpose of advertising in their home markets or expansion markets such as the USA.

          The actual country of the team’s registration has been Luxembourg all along.

          EF hasn’t been a US team in nature for quite a while, and should really change their nationality to Sweden or Switzerland now that EF is the majority owner.

      • Thanks. So basically Bora needed to have brought someone more famous than they have done to have got the number 1, by the sound of it!

        • Their only option if they really wanted #1 was Hindley himself, and I’m sure that even so RCS would have preferred to give it to Remco – it would have been too “violent”, though, so Hindley would have got it. I suspect that at RCS they might even be happy not to have Hindley on the start line… (not just for the number thing).

    • No specific rule on the subject, I guess? But I think that being world champion helps, a bit like Evans 2010, no? (Great Cadel photos and great Giro), or also Bettini 2007. In 2020 given that Movistar opted for sending a modest team, it was all about alphabetical order with Ag2R getting n. 1 as so often it does (peculiar not giving it to previous runner-up Nibali, but maybe it would feel like salt on a wound), from then on it made sense to confirm Ineos although without the reigning champion because of their strong bid for the win in GT former winners Bernal and Carapaz. True mystery is 2019, why Landa… power of Landismo? No, again a case of the above, as Valverde was bound to start until the first week of May.

      The TDF gave it to Froome at the start in 2013 despite Gilbert, after all same team of Wiggo besides being runner-up, and to Evans as runner-up in 2008 (Discovery had folded and Bettini didn’t race the TDF). Despite a poor team and Boonen being at the start, in 2006 ASO let Discovery have n. 1

  10. It’s disappointing when key Giro mountain stages get canceled or shortened due to weather and what not. So I’d especially like to see stage 20 remain as planned. -It’s one of the stages I’m looking forward to.

    Too many time trials seem almost unfair sometimes and that stage 20 puts excitement and dimension in it.

    & what’s the issue with 20, making it questionable, anyway?

      • Which never was an issue in the (recent) past, on dirt roads, even. Just browse “Plan de Corones cronoscalata” for plenty of photos with the riders each followed by his own mech with a spare bike and/or wheels. Companies and teams being afraid of multiple critical failures of their equipment on a 7-8 kms recently paved climb goes really deep into the realm of barely credible. And, as I wrote elsewhere, this same protest isn’t the best marketing for the materials involved. You just should trust that such an unfortunate series of negative event lies among those whose probability is so low that you just don’t spend time and energies on it. Flats on climbs are less common in themselves, to start with, and on such a steep climb you could also run a bit to save the day 😛
        As I pointed out on another post, we’ve gone from “weld your own broken fork in local village’s forge” to “one moto, mech and whole spare bike tracking me is too little, I want at least two or three people in a car with several bikes…”. To ride some *seven* kms, uff!
        Most of the above is obviously tongue-in-cheek, but the mere fact that most common people and fans just can’t understand what the problem is casts a poor light on the sport.

  11. I always look forward to the Giro every year regardless of whether is actually a decent race or not. The scenery and the side stories are usually enough to keep me interested. On that note I won’t really be bothered if Remco steamrollers his way to an easy win. I kind of hope he does. Mainly to gee up his burgeoning rivalry with Pogacar and also because I might be turning into a bit of a fan boy. I always hope for a breakthrough ride from an Italian potential GC contender, though who that might be in the covid enforced absence of Ciccone (who is well passed breakthrough level anyway) I have no idea.

    • The problem with the narrative about Pozzovivo is that no one knows if this is his last one. He will find a lacking-points team each February and make his traditionnal 8th place in May until 2035.

  12. A lot of crazy things happen in the giro.

    I predict Roglic, Thomas, and Remco all encounter various forms of bad luck, and Pinot wins. Yep. There’s my hot take.

  13. Excellent preview, looking forward to the race! Any news if RAI/Race organisers have made any improvements to the coverage/consistency of coverage in the high mountains? Recent years have been plagued with cut outs and poor images. I think I recall a stage where Bernal just appeared to win the stage after an epic solo mountain raid!

    • Last year was much better, no missed stages because it was wet or cloudy. Hopefully for of the same, they used an extra outside production company that wasn’t as reliant on the helicopter being able to fly and acting as a relay.

      • Uhmm, I think last year we got a decent deal of missing images… despite the weather not being that bad.
        Sometimes the production tried to mask the situation jumping to other cameras, but all in all I think we had several complaints, on this blog, too, even if the company was now the same as TDF’s.
        Cortina 2021 was a shame for the decades. Not really a mountain raid because the stage was reduced to just one climb, essentially, the last one, where Bernal indeed took off and arrived alone.
        However the problem wasn’t exactly the images only, some ridere were also pushing towards the stage cut. Many commenters then suspected that organisers were keen to accept that because they were afraid they couldn’t grant images for most of the time, so better not to have much racing at all.

      • I don’t remember much bad weather, or at least they made it look that way somehow. At least for us in Italy RAI TV looks to have two commenters on motos in the race along with the EMG people. Might tempt me away from Luca and Magro on Eurosport? IMHO Gilbert isn’t very good, but perhaps he can get the hang of it eventually? The worst part of EMG’s coverage is the interviewing (though I’m screaming at the director way-too-much)…I hate the guy who does these..dumb questions and half the time the riders seem to have no idea what he’s even saying!

  14. I hope Jumbo is soaking up all the bad luck for Roglic pre-race and he will have a clean run. I say this as an Ineos fan.

    • Just read about Tratnik … Jumbo do seem to have a curse on them. At least they won’t waste energy trying to “monster” the other teams.

      • To misquote Lady Bracknell, “To lose one may be regarded as a misfortune, to lose four looks like carelessness.” One might well ask what the heck is going on at Jumbo.

      • Yeah, your post reminds me of the bike swap chaos by Jumbo which gave room to so many great GIFs on the web. They sometimes look like those control freaks who fall into full mayhem mode when the script gets broken.

        That said, and much more important, it’s absurd that we’ve got safety bickering about Monte Lussari when institutions in pro cycling do so little to tackle the most impacting and now huge safety issue which seriously affects the sport, i.e., general road safety. Cyclists need open roads to train, and, well, they need to train, so it’s a crucial part of the sport, but since it’s not under direct control, it’s something which is easy to overlook for institutions, teams etc. Yet, although it’s not under your direct control, you should negotiate, push, lobby and all that, as hard as you can. It’s currently the main reason limitating quantitative access to the sport, and, of course, where actual main danger lies.
        *Two* athletes hit by cars ina single day on the Giro’s eve, one of them forced to retire, and the subject is not the only thing you’re talking about?

        I’m aware that things are being done, but they’re far from proportional to the magnitude of the matter. I’m also aware that you might be afraid that talking about safety issues further scares people away – but cycling needs to deal with it all. Just check how many athletes this year suffered from road accidents with motorised vehicles compared with the supposed dangers of racing as such.

  15. “subcutaneous provocation” gets on my Giro podium.

    It’s going to be Remco isn’t it. Last time trial is all set up for a spectacular crack and collapse which would be both excellent and gruesome viewing. I just can’t see it being Remco.

    Soft spot here for Tao. Would be a nice course and distance echo of Hindley last year if he could frank the form of the 2020 race.

  16. The top 2 deserve the billing but even with Evenepoels improvement he does not yet have the background to say for sure he can pull through that 3rd week. After this race he may but not yet.
    Roglic for sure has question marks over the 3rd week. I don’t see either of the 2 fav’s teams as being strong enough to dominate the 3rd week. The race could really split up if other riders are willing to roll the dice at the correct time. Teams with multiple in contention riders could really play the wild card.
    Given the difficulty of the 3rd week and middling strength of the teams any team with real aspirations of being in pink needs to be conservative for as l0ng as possible otherwise the domestiques will fall apart when needed most. Chasing for 100 km’s just for the chance of a stage win and time bonuses might be off the cards.

  17. Thanks for yet another great preview. Giro is my favourite Grand Tour, many great memories of the 3 times I have been. Hoping for a podium for Jay Vine.

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