Giro 2023: GC Favourites

Primoz Roglic cat - Giro 2023: GC Favouritesfoto: Cor VosWho are the pre-race favourites for this year's maglia rosa? Evenepoel and Roglic kicked off their 2023 campaign with strong performances, but with the likes of Almeida, Thomas, Geoghegan Hart and Vlasov also competing it's a save bet to expect the unexpected. It wouldn't be the first time that the Italian Grand Tour pulled a surprise winner out of its pink hat. Prego, brings you the hottest GC favourites.

[Underneath text was written before the start of the Giro and has not been updated]

Yet, a fierce battle between Roglic and Evenepoel is the most likely scenario. We had a first taste of it in the Volta a Catalunya – and what an appetizer that was! Both refused to budge in a battle that started on day one and ended on the finish line in Barcelona. Both took two stage wins, while Roglic won the overall with a margin of just 6 seconds.

The Volta a Catalunya was the most compelling stage race of this season, and let’s hope we get more of that in Italy.

Last year’s Giro podium – Hindley, Carapaz, Landa – is conspicious by its absence. Which does not imply that the field is weak. On the contrary. With the inclusion of aforementioned duo, Evenepoel and Roglic, the start list is studded with the last four winners on the Vuelta a España. And Geraint Thomas rode into eternity by winning the 2018 Tour de France. And Tao Geoghegan Hart is the only competing rider in Italy who knows how it feels to win the Giro d’Italia. After all, he did it before – in 2020. Furthermore, one of the most exciting stage race talents lines up for INEOS Grenadiers as well. In last year’s Vuelta, Thymen Arensman took victory on the Queen Stage and finished sixth overall.

Speaking of INEOS. Strength in numbers is their strong suit. While Roglic and Evenepoel are the sole team leaders, INEOS has plenty riders with the skill set to finish top 10 – Thomas, Geoghegan Hart, Arensman, and possibly even Pavel Sivakov. If all goes well the podium should be within reach for this quartet. And possibly the pinkest spot on that podium.

Former Giro winner Geoghegan Hart recently won the Tour of the Alps. Also pocketing two stages, the Londoner rode dominant in a team alongside Thomas, Arensman and Sivakov. While GC hopeful Thomas clearly has some work to do, Geoghegan Hart is ready for a 2020 scenario when push comes to shove. Back then leader Thomas crashed out early and Geoghegan Hart stepped in his shoes to snatch the maglia rosa on the last day of action from Jai Hindley.

Last year’s winners
Last year’s winning squad, BORA-hansgrohe, aims to suceed Jai Hindley with either Aleksandr Vlasov or Lennard Kämna. The Russian was on fire last year, as he won the Tour of Valencia, came out on top at the Tour of Romandie, and was lying in pole position to win the Tour de Suisses when he pulled out with a positive COVID-19 test. Results have been meagre since then and his performances this season were unimpressive. He finished ninth on the Tirreno-Adriatico, while his team mate Kämna was on much better form. The German was race leader for one day and finished in fourth place overall. Kämna used to be a stage hunter, the Giro is his first time to target the GC.

In fact, quite a lot of riders with pink dreams were riding the Tirreno-Adriatico. Just to name a few – Almeida (second), Geoghegan Hart (third), and Pinot (tenth). We did not mention the most important name. Roglic was standing head and shoulders above his competitors in the Race of the Two Seas. The Slovene won the GC and took three stage wins while he was at it.

As said, Roglic continued his winning streak two weeks later on the Volta a Catalunya. Just like Roglic, Evenepoel rode one other stage race in preparation for the Giro. The World Champion turned out on top on the UAE Tour. He did not win a stage then, but was one of the most alert GC riders in a wind swept race and consolidated in the mountains. Contrary to Roglic he also rode a Classic. Two weeks before the start of the Giro he blew his competition away with a 30 kilometres solo win in Liège-Bastogne-Liège.

So most of the riders who are targeting the Giro GC were riding the Tirreno-Adriatico last March, but some of them opted for Paris-Nice. While Tadej Pogacar devastated his Tour de France rivals Jonas Vingegaard and David Gaudu, Pavel Sivakov and Jack Haig were the last two riders in the top 10.

To return to the Volta a Catalunya. That race – which was held at the end of March – was extremely exciting, but only at the absolute top. Roglic and Evenepoel were in a class of their own, while João Almeida finished as the best of the rest at over 2 minutes. Geraint Thomas was also there, but let’s assume the Welshman just started to prepare for his big goals, as he finished 45th. Which was one spot above Mäder, who had been so strong two weeks earlier with his fourth place overall on Paris-Nice. Which just goes to show: cycling is no mathematics, and luckily.

In short
Given their performances until now, a three week long replay of the Volta a Catalunya is imminent. Evenepoel versus Roglic. Which is definitely something to look foward to, although we would not mind if a third rider would throw himself into the mix and fight for the bone. Not necessarily to take off with it. But merely to add extra fuel to the excitement.

Favourites 2023 Giro d’Italia

***** Primoz Roglic, Remco Evenepoel
**** Aleksandr Vlasov, João Almeida, Geraint Thomas
*** Tao Geoghegan Hart, Hugh Carthy, Damiano Caruso
** Thibaut Pinot, Thymen Arensman, Lennard Kämna
* Rigoberto Uran, Jack Haig, Jay Vine, Ben Healy

Watch the highlights of recent races here:
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