Instead of one top favorite, many candidates for Maglia Rosa

Preview of the 105th Giro d’Italia

By Kevin Kemp

Winner’s trophy of the 105th Giro d’Italia | Photo: Cor Vos

05/05/2022 | (rsn) – This year’s first GrandTour starts in Hungary on Friday with the 105th edition of the Giro d’Italia. Seven of the last nine three-week tournaments have been won by three riders, but neither Tadej Pogacar (UAE Team Emirates), Primoz Roglic (Jumbo – Visma) or defending champion Egan Bernal (Ineos Grenadiers) will start in Budapest. This opens up opportunities for competitors such as Olympic champion Richard Carapaz (Ineos Grenadiers), winner of the 2019 Giro.

Maglia Rosa

The Ecuadorian is one of the hot candidates again this year. “I want to win my second Grand Tour and I am convinced that everything will go well. My preparation in Ecuador was pretty good,” said 28-year-old Carapaz, who last rode the Tour of Catalonia at the end of March. Back then, it was second place. Next to him, Simon Yates (BikeExchange), another GrandTour winner (Vuelta 2018), is the main challenger for the pink jersey.

Vincenzo Nibali (Astana Qazaqstan, 2013 and 2016) and Tom Dumoulin (Jumbo – Visma, 2017) have also previously entered the Giro’s winners list, but especially the Italian is past the peak of his abilities. And Dumoulin has also followed suit in recent years. “It’s been a long time since I’ve been on the podium at a grand tour, which also makes it exciting for me. Can I still drive on classification? ” 31-year-old Dumoulin asked himself in an interview with Wielerflits.

Richard Carapaz (Ineos Grenadiers) became the first Ecuadorian to win the Giro d’Italia in 2019. | Photo: Cor Vos

Alejandro Valverde is a fifth former GrandTour winner (Vuelta 2009). But even the 42-year-old Spaniard got a small chance of overall victory in his last Giro entry. Things are different for Joao Almeida (UAE Team Emirates), Mikel Landa (Bahrain Victorious), Miguel Angel Lopez (Astana Qazaqstan) and Romain Bardet (DSM).

They are seen as the biggest contenders for top two favorites. The 23-year-old Almeida is the best time trial player among the competitors and could therefore slip into the pink jersey early on. “The training went well – everything is focused on one big goal. And I will give it my all for that, ”said the Portuguese, who finished fourth in his Giro debut and finished sixth last year.

Maglia Blanca

Almeida is also the man to beat on the junior rankings. His challengers are last year’s ninth Tobias Foss (Jumbo – Visma), Ivan Ramiro Sosa (Movistar), who recently won the Tour of Asturias, and Pavel Sivakov (Ineos Grenadiers), who after two weaker years are back in the form of 2019 – da he finished ninth in the Tour of Italy – seems to be approaching.

Thymen Arensman (DSM) apparently has no ambitions. The Dutchman recently excelled as the third overall in the Tour of the Alps, but wants to put himself fully at the service of his captain Bardet: “The classification is not a goal for me at all. We are here to go after the overall standings with Romain and I am very motivated to help him with that, “said Arensmann.

Maglia Ciclamino

One hears something similar from his compatriot Mathieu van der Poel (Alpecin – Fenix), who is considered to have good prospects in the battle for the points classification. “I do not start with the goal in mind. Tim Merlier’s retirement is a bloodbath, now we’re trying to drive for Jakub Mareczko, “the four-time cyclocross world champion, who wants to concentrate on the moderately difficult stages, explained to wielerflits.

Mark Cavendish (Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl) has Michael Morkov, who is currently the best driver in the world, by his side, but like van der Poel, he does not think of Maglia Ciclamina. “No, I’ve been saying for more than ten years that if you consistently get good results, the points jersey comes naturally,” explained the 36-year-old Briton who won the Maglia Ciclamino in 2013.

Arnaud Démare (Groupama – FDJ) is probably the top favorite for victory in the points class, especially since the Frenchman was able to secure the sprint jersey in 2020 with four stage victories. Also Fernando Gaviria (UAE Team Emirates 7 winner 2017), Giro debutant Biniam Ghirmay (Intermarché – Wanty – Gobert), Giacomo Nizzolo (Israel – Premier Tech 2015/2016)), Phil Bauhaus (Bahrain Victorious), Magnus Cort (EF Education – EasyPost) and last but not least Caleb Ewan (Lotto Soudal) is able to win the flat stages and win the points classification.

Maglia Azzurra

If none of the classification favorites are interested in the mountain jersey, the first things to notice when looking at the starting lineup are the aggressive Guillaume Martin (Cofidis) and the discovery of last year’s Giro, Lorenzo Fortunato (Eolo – Kometa).

Trek pros Giulio Ciccone and Bauke Mollema have also previously been involved in the battle for mountain points – Ciccone even secured Blue Jersey in 2019. Should he get the freedom, Blue Jersey could also be a target for Lennard Kämna (Bora) – hansgrohe).

The German fans’ hopes in relation to the overall ranking rest on Emanuel Buchmann (Bora – hansgrohe). | Photo: Cor Vos

The prospects for the German-speaking starters

Emanuel Buchmann starts the race with Wilco Kelderman and Jai Hindley as the Bora trio. In an interview with Deutschlandfunk, the 29-year-old, who last finished a tour among the top ten at the Tour de France 2019, was not very optimistic: “At the moment I am not one hundred percent fit, or not the way I would like it to be. “After the round trip in the Basque Country, I was ill. Until then, I was on the right track. And our preparation went really well. Then we had to postpone the entire altitude training camp by a week.”

Teammate Kennan will try to escape the mountain tapes if he is not to support his captains. Bauhaus definitely has a chance to win a stage in a mass sprint. The other German professionals will mainly be seen in helper roles.

Four Austrians must tackle the Giro in Budapest. Felix Gall (AG2R – Citroën) drove as fast as ever in the Tour of the Alps and finished sixth. He has no one in front of him on his team, so he has all the freedom to either go for rankings or stage victories.

Reto Hollenstein (Israel – Premier Tech) and Mauro Schmid (Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl) will be the only Swiss in the race. As a neo-pro in the Qhubeka jersey, Schmid won a tough Giro stage last year. After switching to Quick-Step, he was able to confirm this reading. Like Gall, the Swiss have all the freedom, which means a repeat of his Montalcino coup is possible.

The chances of a third Giro victory for Vincenzo Nibali (Astana) are pretty poor. At 37 years old, the Italian is past the peak of his abilities. | Photo: Cor Vos

The distance

This time, Around Italy begins in Hungary, where the first stage ends directly on a hill. Also the next day, the classification riders are challenged in the 9.2 kilometer long time trial, before continuing after the flat 3rd stage and a rest day in Sicily, where Etna is directly on the agenda for the fourth division.

Two more chances for the sprinters follow, whereas the seventh and eighth divisions are very hilly. On the 8th stage, the second mountain end is planned with the Blockhaus in central Italy. Second day of rest follows on Monday.

Although only the eleventh division is a classic flat stage, the sprinters always have chances to let their fast legs speak from the tenth to the 13th stage. The following two sections appear on paper to be too easy for the rankings, which should offer opportunities for outbursts.

After the third day of rest, things are going seriously again for the favorites from the 16th stage. Then Mortirolo is first passed from a somewhat easier side, before Aprica is reached via an unusually difficult ascent. A day later, in the final on the way to Lavarone, two Category 1 climbs await on the field.

Last chance for the sprinters is on Thursday on the way to Treviso. To do this, however, they must overcome an 11.3% steep wall 50 kilometers from the finish line. Two mountain finishes follow: Friday to the Santuario di Castelmonte, before Pellegrino is to be crossed on the penultimate day of the Giro. Then, with Pordoi and goal on Fedaia, it climbs twice to over 2000 meters.

But the Giro will only be finally settled in the 17.4-kilometer long time trial in Verona. It will not be very difficult on Sunday, only one mountain classification of 4th category is on the otherwise flat route.

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