Evenepoel, Roglic and a bunch of other people – a 2023 Giro d’Italia preview
Last year Jai Hindley became the first Australian winner of the Giro d’Italia. Cycling being cycling, he has rewarded the race by skipping it in favour of the Tour de France this year.
So who does that leave us with?
The last time there was a three-week race, Belgian rider Remco Evenepoel won it. Since then, he has become world champion and also won Liege-Bastogne-Liege for the second time. He doesn’t have a particularly fast finish and his strategy isn’t too refined – he basically just batters along as fast as he can from quite far out and hopes that no-one can stay with him. Physically, he’ll be hard to beat, but he doesn’t always seem the most calculating and has twice gone over guard rails on descents while riding in Italy, which is surely the kind of thing that has to play on a man’s mind.
The other stand-out contender for this year’s Giro is the man who won the three Vueltas before Evenepoel’s victory last year – Slovenian rider, Primoz Roglic. (He had been second overall but gaining time when he crashed out.) Unlike his team-mate Jonas Vingegaard, who peaks for July and seemingly only for July, Roglic has always raced well throughout the season. Depsite a late return to training after that Vuelta crash, this year has been no exception. He’s won Tirreno-Adriatico and also edged out Evenepoel by a few seconds in the Volta a Catalunya in March. Where his rival tends to attack early, Roglic’s thing is to bolt off uphill with just a kilometre or so to go.
Tao Geoghegan Hart and Geraint Thomas
It’s easy to forget that Ineos Grenadiers’ Tao Geoghegan Hart has actually won this race. The 2020 edition was an odd one though and given his results since, it’s hard to avoid concluding that the frontrunners that year weren’t quite at the same level as usual for fairly obvious and understandable reasons. That said… he’s been looking pretty good this year, finishing third in Tirreno-Adriatico and winning the Tour of the Alps.
Geoghegan Hart will also have support from a man who has won an even bigger race. 2018 Tour de France winner Geraint Thomas is knocking on a bit now and has had a somewhat illness-interrupted season, but given that the only riders to outperform him at last year’s Tour were Jonas Vingegaard and Tadej Pogacar, it’s safe to say he still has the potential to be right up there. Depending how things go, it may well be Geoghegan Hart who becomes the support act – although given Thomas’s record of seeking out freak crashes whenever he races the Giro, the team might be wary of going down that route. (Stationary police motorbike in 2017. Non-stationary stray water bottle in the neutral zone in 2020.)
While the 2023 Giro feels very Evenepoel v Roglic, an awful lot can happen in 3,470.2 kilometres of racing on Italian roads. Crashes, illness, brutally cold weather and mounting fatigue will all take a toll. This is not often a predictable race. Supposed also-rans have a way of vaulting into contention. Jai Hindley wasn’t exactly number one favourite last year.
Other riders to keep an eye on include…
- Alexandr Vlasov, whose Russianness probably shouldn’t be held against him as he hasn’t seemed mad-keen on the old war in the few interviews he’s done
- Portuguese diesel Joao Almeida, who has previously finished fourth and sixth at the Giro and finished fifth at the Vuelta last year
- Another Ineos rider, Pavel Sivakov, a Russian who now races as a Frenchman in response to the war. (He grew up in France)
- Lancastrian pub sports fanatic, Hugh Carthy
- Australian summit finish fanatic, Jay Vine
It’s also worth mentioning that Mark Cavendish will be targeting the flatter stages. He’s with the Astana Qazaqstan team these days.
Here’s the annual lowdown on how you can watch the Giro d’Italia.
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