Preview. The 2023 Giro d'Italia is the first Grand Tour of the season and is one of the most prestigious and loved races of the year. From the explosive fast sprints to the massive alpine challenges, the Corsa Rosa delivers incredibly spectacle every single year from the 6th to 28th of May.
It is a brutal route with several mountaintop finishes, many hilly stages packed with climbing that will disrupt the possibility of sprints, three different individual time-trials and few opportunities for the true sprinters. It will be a thrilling edition of the race surely, and you can find the details of it below.
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PREVIEW | Giro d'Italia 2023 stage 1 - Evenepoel and Roglic open GC battle, Ganna and Küng also favourites to win opening time-trial
Start Times & Order - 2023 Giro d'Italia stage 1 time-trial
There should be six stages for the sprinters. As they are not many, even in the tricky days it is expected that the teams of the fast men pull out their best weapons in order to assure their leaders can fight for a win - as two of these days can see breakaways succeed with the somewhat hilly profile. The days I predict sprinters have their best chances are stages 2, 5, 10, 11, 17 and 21.
These will be arrivals in San Salvo, Salerno, Viareggio, Tortona, Caorle and finally Roma which fits in with the final day of racing. Only the latter will have a circuit finish, whilst stage 17 is placed between high-mountain days in the final week and over the last few years breakaways have been quite successful this late in the race.
Final startlist Giro d'Italia with Evenepoel, Roglic, Ganna, Cavendish, Almeida, Carthy, Vlasov and Thomas
The Giro frequently has hilly days in which spectacle is assured and it usually is open to several types of riders. I've identified six stages which may have that outcome, with breakaways having their best opportunities in some of these days. Sprinters, climbers, puncheurs and classics riders will all have opportunities to succeed in these kinds of days as well. Stages 3, 6, 8, 12, 14 and 15 are the ones above. Stages 8 and 15 can very plausibly have a GC fight aswell, however big gaps aren't to be expected the same way as the true GC stages.
Stage 3 sees two climbs of 6.4Km at 6.4% and 3.1Km at 6.1% in quick succession inside the final 40 kilometers that may shed the sprinters. After it's big success in 2022 Napoli hosts another day of racing on stage 6, going through the rugged Amalfi coast and having a 10 kilometer ascent at almost 6% early in the day which will make for a lot of difficulties to control the stage for the sprinters.
Stage 8 will head into Fossombrone and will have four different steep and sharp ascents. It's an explosive day, but one for defensive racing as a time-trial follows the next day. Still, with the climb to I Cappucini (2.1Km; 10%) placed only six kilometers away from the finish, it may see fireworks. Stage 12 to Rivoli will have a 10.8 kilometer climb at 5.9% near the finish after a mostly flat day, an open day for many opportunists.
Stage 14 is one of the most unique of the season, a day that starts in Switzerland and ends in Italy, it's almost completely flat but features the Simplonpass (19.9Km; 6.5%) early on which will be chaotic and impossible for the fast men and their teams to control. A very interesting day. Stage 15 into Bergamo will have three tough climbs that are known for their presence at Il Lombardia: Valico di Valcava (11.8Km; 7.9%), Selvino (12Km; 5.3%) and Valpiana (10.8Km; 6.2%). A likely day for a breakaway, however the GC riders will have to stay on their toes.
"I honestly don't dare to make a prediction" - Alberto Contador sees Evenepoel and Roglic above the competition at Giro but unsure who's the favourite
The biggest plotline of the race: the overall classification. Every year the Giro delivers a mammoth set of days in the mountains and this year is no exception. The race will feature three individual time-trials on stages 1, 9 and 20 which amount to 70.6 kilometers against the clock. A hilly, a flat and a mountainous time-trial, they will all be important in the fight for the pink jersey, with the final competitive day including a monstrous ascent that will test all those remaining in the race.
Stages 4 and 7 to Lago Laceno and Gran Sasso d'Italia will be opening tests where the GC riders will test their form and the climbers will be figuring who will be fighting for the Top10 as well as the timed jerseys. They are known finales of the Giro, both without gradient that should cause too many differences. The high mountains truly start only on stage 13 however with a hattrick of colossal climbs. Those are the Col du Grand-Saint Bernard (34Km; 5%), the Col de Coeur (15.5Km; 8.6%) and the summit finish at Crans-Montana (13Km; 7.4), which will create chaos in the GC.
The final week of the race will be absolutely brutal, with stage 16 featuring 5600 meters of climbing and a summit finish at Monte Bondone (20.3K; 6.7%), a true high-Alpine challenge. Stage 18 will end in Val di Zoldo. The final section of the stage will have ascents of the Forcella Cibiana (9.5Km; 7.9%) and Coi (6.3Km; 8.8%) which can shake up the GC fight once again, if the riders aren't too concerned on the days that follow.
Stage 19 sees another 5500 meters of climbing and may be called the queen stage, it is the Dolomite special! Passo Campolongo (4Km; 7%), Passo Valparola (13.3Km; 5.9%), Passo Giau (9.8Km; 9.3%), Passo Tre Croci (8.2Km; 7.2%) and after some sharp terrain, the high-altitude finish at Tre Cime di Lavaredo, including another 4 kilometers at 11.4%. The GC fight will only end in the stage 20 individual time-trial with 18.6 kilometers in distance, and it's finish at Monte Lussari which has a whole 7.1 kilometers at 12.3% (the steepest 4.7Km at an ungodly gradient of 15%).
"For sure it will be a spectacular finish" - Primoz Roglic anticipates brutal Giro d'Italia route
Estimated start and finish times for Giro d'Italia:
Stage 1: 13:50-17:10CET
Stage 2: 12:20-17:15CET
Stage 3: 11:45-17:15CET
Stage 4: 12:30-17:15CET
Stage 5: 12:40-17:15CET
Stage 6: 12:55-17:15CET
Stage 7: 11:15-17:15CET
Stage 8: 11:50-17:15CET
Stage 9: 13:10-17:10CET
Stage 10: 12:05-17:15CET
Stage 11: 11:25-17:15CET
Stage 12: 12:30CET-17:15CET
Stage 13: 11:00CET-17:15CET
Stage 14: 12:05-17:15CET
Stage 15: 11:45-17:15CET
Stage 16: 10:50-17:15CET
Stage 17: 12:50-17:15CET
Stage 18: 12:20-17:15CET
Stage 19: 11:35-17:15CET
Stage 20: 11:30-18:30CET
Stage 21: 15:25-18:45CET
Remco Evenepoel - Winner of the Vuelta a Espana last summer, Evenepoel returns to the Giro two years after. 2021 was a tough race for him, abandoning after having struggled in the mountains. That was however an underprepared and returning from injury Evenepoel, much has changed in the meantime. A double monument winner, World Champion and Grand Tour champion, he's taken the step many hoped for. Above all his consistency and calm during the Vuelta is a great sign of what he can do in Grand Tours, having developed the necessary mental tricks too to thrive in this environment.
The route is packed with time-trialing kilometers early on which will see him enter the Alps ahead or tied with the whole competition. Unfortunately for him Primoz Roglic is equally strong against the clock, both should be very balanced as was the case at the Volta a Catalunya where he finished second. Using the same preparation as last year's Vuelta, he's surged to an unbeatable performance at Liège-Bastogne-Liège, and will be a big contender for the win.
Primoz Roglic - Roglic shares that position with him. A three-time Vuelta winner he knows how to win a Grand Tour, and returns to the Corsa Rosa for the first time since 2019 where he first showed his Grand Tour potential. A stronger climber and better all-rounder currently, he will be difficult to dislodge. His start of the season was only in mid-March but he managed to win both Tirreno-Adriatico and Volta a Catalunya whilst winning five stages. He enters the Giro without any competition recently but signs point towards good form and a focus on the final week, where the altitude and brutal mountains will be a big challenge.
INEOS Grenadiers - INEOS dominated the Tour of the Alps and built a mountain train. Their strategy here can't be the same, they have to put on the pressure to Evenepoel and Roglic if they want to win the race. Luckily they have the cards to play. Tao Geoghegan Hart has been having a very strong spring and recently won the Tour of the Alps, stepping up to a very high level and confidence. Geraint Thomas hasn't shown his best form but will like the TT-filled route and after performing brilliantly at the Tour last year, will be a cause to concern.
Pacing won't be the tactics here, instead INEOS can use Thymen Arensman and Pavel Sivakov for tactical use early in the race, whilst Filippo Ganna is part of a strong and experienced support lineup that seems to be a very big objective for INEOS.
UAE Team Emirates - João Almeida returns in an attempt to get the podium. He could realistically aim for more, he's a rider who thrives in the third week of Grand Tours and is a strong time-trialist, nothing indicates that he will be far from the top men at the start of the final week. UAE have a different kind of strategy than the teams above, putting emphasis in stage wins and not specifically aim for the GC. Jay Vine and Brandon McNulty could be interesting riders both in a possible GC fight or domestique work, but they have the cards to play.
Remco Evenepoel: "I can count on a very good team, we are all motivated and prepared to do our best"
Bahrain - Victorious - Entering the field of the more pure climbers. It can't be said that Bahrain enter the race ambitioning the pink jersey but the brutal final week can see a bad day take out even the likes of Evenepoel and Roglic from contention. Every day matters, Damiano Caruso is an expert on this type of race and he's in good form following a third place at the Tour de Romandie, he'll love the high altitude and colossal mountain days.
Bahrain feature Jack Haig who's on a pursuit of a Top5 as he returns to his Grand Tour goals and his third place at the Tour of the Alps signals that he's carrying good form. The team have Santiago Buitrago as a card to play as well, however more as supporting riders likely. A big block with high goals and two podium contenders.
Aleksandr Vlasov - The Russian climber was fourth here in 2021 and fifth last year at the Tour de France. He's a reliable card to play, but hasn't however had the consistency this year that he's shown in the past. Still at the Tour of the Alps he showed good signs of improvement finishing second in the queen stage, he's also finished fifth at the Volta a Comunitat Valenciana and ninth at Tirreno-Adriatico. Lennard Kämna could be a very interesting rider too, as he likely is set to target the overall classification, having performed very strongly in the stage-races this spring with fourth at Tirreno-Adriatico and sixth at the Tour of the Alps - with the queen stage victory.
Hugh Carthy - After some time of absence, I get the feeling that the best Hugh Carthy is back. Leading EF Education, the Briton is off of a second place at the Tour of the Alps which was quite promising. The Briton also finished eighth at Tirreno-Adriatico, he's a rider that regularly performs well in the third week and high mountains so he's definitely one to watch and a true podium contender. Rigoberto Urán comes in also as an interesting outsider for the Top10.
Other possible GC contenders include Aurélien Paret-Peintre, Domenico Pozzovivo, Einer Rubio and Eddie Dunbar. The likes of Lorenzo Fortunato and Thibaut Pinot could target the overall classification but both have expressed intentions to race for stage wins in the mountains.
Tao Geoghegan Hart "hoping to add another special chapter" to Giro d'Italia as he pursues second win
Other big figures
In the sprinter field we will have Mads Pedersen and Michael Matthews as the main contenders for the points classification and will be well suited to the many hilly stages. Mark Cavendish, Fernando Gaviria, Alberto Dainese, Kaden Groves, Pascal Ackermann, Simone Consonni, Vincenzo Albanese, Magnus Cort Nielsen, Niccolò Bonifazio, Jake Stewart and Filippo Fiorelli will be among the fast men.
When it comes to the time-trials it will be a difficult task with Remco Evenepoel and Primoz Roglic present, however in the initial two TT's the competition will be fierce. Filippo Ganna will be present and hunting the first pink jersey of the race. Stefan Küng is also present and will be interesting riders for these days.
"I'm not afraid of them" - Geraint Thomas ready to face Roglic and Evenepoel at Giro d'Italia, details feelings towards Giro d'Italia return
Prediction Giro d'Italia 2023 overall classification:
*** Remco Evenepoel, Primoz Roglic
** Tao Geoghegan Hart, João Almeida
* Aleksandr Vlasov, Geraint Thomas, Hugh Carthy, Jack Haig, Damiano Caruso, Lennard Kämna
Pick: Remco Evenepoel