Given their performances in the most recent editions Richard Carapaz and Simon Yates are the riders to watch. The Ecuadorian is defending his title, while Yates looked imperious in 2018. He rode thirteen days in the maglia rosa and won three stages before he cracked in the Colle delle Finestre stage and lost almost 40 minutes. In retrospect, Yates mentioned that his aggressive racing style may have contributed to his collapse. He learned his lesson though, and he took a commanding overall triumph in La Vuelta that September.
Last year, Yates returned to Italy to show the world he was ready to win Italy’s Grand Tour also. But no. His ambitions turned sour and after a bland race he finished eight overall, almost 8 minutes down on race winner Carapaz. The Ecuadorian took full advantage of the two-way tussle Roglic and Nibali enacted. The two seemed to be convinced that the Giro was a battle between them alone. How wrong they were. Carapaz won two stages and sat atop the overall standing from stage 15 onward.
What about young Remco Evenepoel? Not lacking in ambition, the 20-year old declared: “I’ll try to fight for the maglia rosa.” Alberto Contador believes in him and predicted that Evenepoel is one of the big favourites for the Giro d’Italia. On the downside, the Flemish golden boy is riding his first Grand Tour and the high mountains and long climbs are relatively new to him. If he succeeds in winning the maglia rosa, he becomes the youngest post-WWII Grand Tour-winner. Right now, Egan Bernal is wearing that crown. The Colombian was 22 years when he won last year’s Tour de France.
On the bright side, in this year’s first clash of Giro-contenders – the Vuelta a Burgos – Evenepoel destroyed both Carapaz and Yates. In a strong field he triumphed in the mountain stage to Picón Blanco and he also won the overall classification.
Vincenzo Nibali then… The Sicilian won all three Grand Tours and although he finished in second place last year, his best days are behind him. The Shark of Messina is almost 36 years of age. Not that we should rule someone out by age alone, but a GC win would make him, after Chris Horner, the oldest post-WWII Grand Tour winner.
There is a question mark hovering above Jakob Fuglsang’s head. Het was at a different level last year – winning Liège-Bastogne-Liège, Ruta del Sol and Critérium du Dauphiné – and he continued his winning streak pre-corona on the Ruta del Sol. On paper, the Dane should be a top contender for the maglia rosa. Yet, he has only finished in the top ten of a Grand Tour on one previous occasion – 7th in the 2013 Tour de France.
(more to follow)
Favourites 2020 Giro d’Italia
***** Simon Yates, Richard Carapaz
**** Jakob Fuglsang, Remco Evenepoel
*** Wilco Kelderman, Vincenzo Vincenzo
** Marc Soler, Hugh Carthy, Tejay van Garderen
* Sam Oomen, Carl Fredrik Hagen, Laurens De Plus