The first Grand Tour of the year finally gets underway later today and whilst many are expecting a head-to-head battle between Primoz Roglic and Remco Evenepoel, Philippe Gilbert has expressed his belief that Tao Geoghegan Hart mustn't be ruled out.
"He is really strong," Gilbert says in conversation with Eurosport. "You saw how he did at the Tour of the Alps with two stages to go. He has a strong team, a lot of confidence. He loves this race. He loves Italy. I think that he can be again fighting for something big in this Giro. Now, we know that Roglic and Evenepoel are the two fighting it out, but Tao can be right behind them."
A former Giro d'Italia winner in his own right, Geoghegan Hart has the Grand Tour winning pedigree that very few have. "You never know what might happen. Maybe the other two are going to control each other and he could take advantage of that," Gilbert continues. "He knows how to do it; he has a strong team. Also, he has guys who have experience next to him. And I think he's a good position to do a really nice Giro."
Alongside the likes of Geraint Thomas, Thymen Arensman and Pavel Sivakov, the INEOS Grenadiers have a very strong team around Geoghegan Hart, something that could prove key to the upcoming Maglia Rosa battle according to Gilbert. "I didn't really see something that way the last few weeks from Thomas," Gilbert said. "I was thinking more from Geoghegan Hart, his team-mate who just won a race. But for Thomas, it would be a nice result for him. And I wish him to do so."