[Underneath article was written before the start of the Giro and has not been updated.]
The Grand Tour season kicks into gear with the Giro d’Italia. Simon Yates, Tom Dumoulin and Vincenzo Nibali are the big names on the start list, but Primoz Roglic has the best credentials. Roglic highlighted his potential as a contender in multi-day stage races with victories at the Tirreno-Adriatico, Tour de Romandie and the UAE Tour. Even more impressive is the fact that these are all the races he competed. So the Slovenian is on fire this season, which shouldn’t come as a big surprise as he already won two stages in the Tour de France (2017 and 2018), while he just missed the podium in last year’s Tour de France.
For different reasons the other major contenders for the overall victory in the Giro d’Italia haven’t shown their best self in 2019. Dumoulin’s best performance was 4th at the Tirreno-Adriatico and Nibali couldn’t match the young guns of Sky/Ineos in the Tour of the Alps – Pavel Sivakov and Tao Geoghegan Hart – and he finished 3rd place overall. Simon Yates form in terms of GC is a question mark. He won stages in Paris-Nice and the Ruta del Sol, but he didn’t start any stage-race in 2019 to win.
Obviously, Dumoulin and Yates have outstanding 2018 credentials. The Dutchman was runner-up in both the Giro d’Italia and the Tour de France, while the Brit won the literally hottest Grand Tour of the season, La Vuelta. He was also outstanding in the Giro. Yates rode thirteen days in the maglia rosa and pocketed three stages in Italy before he cracked in the final week. It all came down in the Colle delle Finestre stage, when Chris Froome bravely attacked with Tom Dumoulin in pursuit. That day, Yates collapsed and lost almost 40 minutes. Now he’s back and he wants to show the world he is ready to win Italy’s Grand Tour. In retrospect, Yates mentioned that his aggressive racing style at the Giro last year may have contributed to his collapse. He opts for a more ‘laid-back’ approach in 2019 as he plans to keep his tendencies to attack wherever he can under control.
Tom Dumoulin said in an interview with Dutch media that he is in worse form than the previous two years ahead of the Giro d’Italia. Looking at the statistics one can only agree. He returned from altitude training to race in Liège-Bastogne-Liège, where he under-performed and finished in 50th place. The 2017 Giro winner will not venture into Italy’s Grand Tour with a lot of confidence. Fourth in the Tirreno, 6th in the UAE Tour and 50th in Liège – that’s it. The sheer amount om time trial kilometres must give him some sort of confidence, though. Maybe a win in the hilly Bologna ITT on the first day of action could serve as a morale-boosting elixer to re-find his best self.
The 2019 Giro features 60 kilometres of time trialing, while the 2018 and 2017 editions included respectively 44.2 and 69.1 kilometres against the clock. With Roglic lined-up the Dutchman faces strong competition on his preferred discipline and Simon Yates scored his first-ever ITT victory in March in Paris-Nice.
Obviously, Vincenzo Nibali is always a force to be reckoned with, yet the Sicilian rider is a bit of an enigma. When you think he is on the ropes, he bounces back with an amazing performance. That said, he didn’t win anything since his Milan-San Remo victory of 2018 and his last Grand Tour win dates back to 2016. On the other hand, Nibali is one of only seven riders who can say that he is a winner of all three Grand Tours.
Miguel Ángel López, Mikel Landa and Rafal Majka – they are all eager to win their first Grand Tour. Just looking at the statistics, López is best-placed to do so. Recently, he won the Volta a Catalunya and he also turned out on top in last February’s Tour Colombia. Furthermore, López won the young rider classification in the 2018 Giro d’Italia, so arguably he should be able for the next step. Is the 25-year old Colombian ready to rumble with the big boys?
Title holder Chris Froome skips the Corsa Rosa to focus on a fifth Tour de France win this summer.
Favourites 2019 Giro d’Italia
***** Simon Yates, Primoz Roglic
**** Miguel Ángel López, Tom Dumoulin
*** Ion Izagirre, Mikel Landa, Vincenzo Nibali
** Richard Carapaz, Ilnur Zakarin, Bob Jungels
* Rafal Majka, Esteban Chaves, Bauke Mollema