The INEOS Grenadiers team delivered the Giro champions three times in the last four years – and again this year the British team has a hot iron in the fire with Richard Carapaz.
“On paper,” says Jens Voigt, the Ecuadorian is a favorite with João Almeida, but there is a risk of serious competition from the Bahrain Victorious camp.
In the case of the sprinters, “Mark Cavendish’s situation is particularly interesting,” explains the two-time winner of the Deutschland Tour.
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A first preliminary decision at Giro 2022 can already be expected on the 4th stage, how Voigt in conversation with Eurosport.de explained.
Tobias Laure conducted the interview
With the two Slovenes Tadej Pogacar (UAE Team Emirates) and Primoz Roglic (Jumbo-Visma) missing two absolute “heavyweights” in the Giro. Who is now the top favorite?
Jens Voigt: On paper, the UAE Team Emirates ‘João Almeida and INEOS Grenadiers’ Richard Carapaz are the top favorites. But I really like the Bahrain-Victorious team because they are strong. With Pello Bilbao and Mikel Landa, there are two excellent professionals that I see on the same level as Almeida and Carapaz.
Still, INEOS Grenadiers seems to have the most balanced side …
Voigt: That is for sure. You are excellently positioned not only in relation to top staff but also across. Richard Carapaz, Jonathan Castroviejo and Johnatan Narváez are all capable of a single podium. In addition, we have four mountain ends on the Giro, where Richie Porte will prove to be a strong helper and worker. It is a great advantage to have him on the team. Not to forget Pavel Sivakov, although I would like to see more of him. He must now take the step from talent to champion. Otherwise you end up in a drawer and everyone says you can work well, but no more.
Pogacar justified his decision not to start by saying that participation in the Giro would jeopardize his chances at the Tour de France in July. Is it understandable?
Voigt: Yes, 100 percent. He did everything right there. I have said over and over again that the time difference between the Giro and the Tour does not fit. No one has won the Giro and the Tour in one season since the times of Marco Pantani in the last millennium. There are reasons. The distance between the two events is too long to keep up with further running and training. Everyone who participates in the Giro usually drives well the first ten days of the trip, then the tank is empty. On the other hand, after Italy Around you can not just take a break and rebuild your form – because the distance is too short. The double of the Tour and Vuelta is possible, the timing is right.
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What else separates the Tour and Giro when it comes to victory?
Voigt: The Tour de France is the biggest and most difficult race, everyone really wants to win it. At the Giro d’Itaila, four to five riders dream of the overall standings and maybe eight of the podium. In the Tour, ten professionals aim for the victory, 30 will be on the podium and each of them will win a stage.
A special highlight is on the 4th stage with the mountain’s arrival at the volcano Etna. Is there already a preliminary decision?
Voigt: There is a choice because the Giro is very tailored for mountaineers. There are only two individual time runs, which are relatively short. For a man like Jumbo-Visma’s Tom Dumoulin, it’s counterproductive. In a time trial over 50 or 55 km, he could have gotten real time on Carapaz, maybe two minutes or more. Over nine kilometers in the fight against the clock, Dumoulin takes a lead of 15 to 30 seconds. A narrow pillow that will not be enough when the 4th stage goes to Etna. It is 23 km uphill with an average climb of almost six percent. I’m sure: on the night of the Etna stage, we can limit the group of candidates for the overall victory to six or seven riders – and three from this squad will ultimately make up the podium in Verona.
Giro d’Italia 2011: The field on the way to Etna
Photo Credit: Getty Images
You can not talk about the 2022 Giro without mentioning Mark Cavendish and Vincenzo Nibali. Let’s start with Cavendish making his first Tour of Italy debut in nine years.
Voigt: Right. Mark’s situation at the Giro is super interesting. He has a similarly good sprinter in his team at Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl in Fabio Jakobsen. Both have already been successful this year, but are not yet as dominant as hoped. Quick-Step only takes one sprinter to the Tour de France and they both want that spot. For Cavendish, it’s a record. He and Eddy Merckx currently have 34 stage wins each on the Tour. However, Cavendish would like to have that record to himself, and he will be 37 under the Giro – so the chances next season will not be better.
Vincenzo Nibali, meanwhile, is driving his last Giro d’Italia. What can we expect there?
Voigt: Vincenzo is number one for the Astana Qazaqstan team as captain, but I do not think that with his 37 he is still within his reach of the overall victory. I mean that with all due respect because he is an amazing driver and has already won all three Grand Tours. Now he has to ask himself what he wants: become number eight or eleventh? No, he will go on the offensive and aim for stage victories. Nibali is one of the last instinct riders and will not only roll with – because he loves the Giro d’Italia too much.
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