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Giro d'Italia: Tips and predictions as Tadej Pogacar bids for first Maglia Rosa

The 107th edition of the Giro d'Italia gets under way in Turin on Saturday and the big question is: can anyone stop Tadej Pogacar storming to a first Maglia Rosa and third Grand Tour success?

Matthew Ireland's Giro d'Italia tips

1st Tadej Pogacar, 2nd Thymen Arensman straight forecast - 22/1
Juan Pedro Lopez to win a stage -

Odds displayed were correct at the time of writing and subject to fluctuation.

Giro d'Italia 2024

Setting the scene…

Never one to subscribe to conventional wisdom, cycling superstar Tadej Pogacar arrives in Italy for the 107th Giro d'Italia chasing the first leg of a landmark Grand Tour double.

Marco Pantani was the last rider to win the Giro and Tour de France in the same year some 26 years ago but Pogacar is short odds to be pretty in pink later this month.

1st Tadej Pogacar, 2nd Thymen Arensman straight forecast - 22/1

Most cycling fans are resigned to the fact that barring injury, illness or bad luck, Tadej Pogacar will win the 2024 Giro d'Italia.

The Slovene has been imperious this season and his ruthless victory at Liege-Bastogne-Liege earlier this month further illustrated that he is on another level to most riders in the peloton.

Pogacar doesn't have the strongest team at his disposal - Ineos Grenadiers perhaps boast that accolade - but he probably doesn't need to have given his individual ability.

A longer than average 72 kilometres of time-trialling will also give him a huge advantage over his rivals such is his prowess against the clock.

And, in truth, there aren't a huge amount of riders to give him much concern anyway.

He knows he can beat 11/2 second-favourite Geraint Thomas, who agonisingly relinquished the pink jersey on the penultimate stage of last year's race, and riders such as Romain Bardet, Ben O'Connor and Damiano Caruso are steady Grand Tour riders but have never come that close to winning one.

Therefore, picking who may finish second to Pogacar is an open heat but it may pay to focus on the new GC kids on the block.

Antonio Tiberi will have all of Italy pulling for him on his Giro debut while Belgian Cian Uijtdebroeks finished eighth at last year's Vuelta a Espana in his first Grand Tour.

Both will be targeting the podium but Ineos' Thymen Arensman is a little further along in his development and could build on sixth place at last year's race.

Arensman will assume joint-leadership with Thomas and he has extra incentive to deliver on his evident potential in three-week races as his contract with Ineos ends this year.

He will have liked to have shown more at the recent Tour of Romandie but sixth place at Tirreno Adriatico is more indicative of his form, and of the riders who reoppose, only O'Connor finished above him in the general classification, and that was by just one second.

Matthew Ireland's Tip

Matt White, sports director at Jayco-AlUla, believes that Tadej Pogacar is "unbeatable" at this year's Giro d'Italia and it's hard to disagree given the Slovene's exceptional spring form and dearth of credible challengers.

Pogacar should be able to brush the old guard aside and it may open the door for one of an emerging crop of Grand Tour racers to take second spot on the podium.

Arensman was an excellent sixth on his Giro debut last year and could build on that result as the co-leader of a strong Ineos Grenadiers team.

Juan Pedro Lopez to win a stage - 6/4

Lidl-Trek have said they will go all out for stage victories at the Giro d'Italia and in home hope Jonathan Milan, they have the favourite for the points classification.

However, if the GC battle was lacking in depth, the sprinting ranks are certainly not.

A high-class bunch of speedsters will take to the start line in Turin to target an unusually bountiful selection of flat stages so Milan, who won one stage on his way to winning the points jersey last year, has plenty of competition for victories.

The Italian's team-mate Juan Pedro Lopez will go on the hunt for stages whenever the route heads skywards and the recent Tour of the Alps winner is a much more attractive price to win a stage at 6/4.

Lopez led the Giro for 10 days in 2022 before eventually finishing a highly creditable 10th overall and he returns to Italy in excellent form.

The Spaniard finished above a number of other Giro hopefuls in the Tour of the Alps and his victory on a mountainous stage three was highly encouraging.

Matthew Ireland's Tip

Lopez enjoyed an extended stay in the pink jersey at the 2022 Giro d'Italia but the Spaniard is targeting stage wins over the general classification this time around.

The 26-year-old warmed up for the race with a stage win and overall victory at the Tour of the Alps a couple of weeks ago and appears in excellent shape as he bids for a first success in a Grand Tour.

Matthew Ireland's Giro d'Italia tips

1st Tadej Pogacar, 2nd Thymen Arensman straight forecast - 22/1
Juan Pedro Lopez to win a stage - 6/4

Odds displayed were correct at the time of writing and subject to fluctuation.

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