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Giro d'Italia preview: Time trials suit leading contenders

In cycling the Giro d'Italia is something of the purist's Grand Tour; a mix of picturesque climbs, stunning scenery and old school unpredictable racing.

The 106th edition promises to be no different, with a varied route making its way across almost all provinces of the Italian mainland before the winner is declared in Rome on May 28th.

WhatGiro d'Italia
WhereItaly and Switzerland
WhenSaturday 6th May - Sunday 28th May 2023
How to watchEurosport & Discovery+
OddsRemco Evenepoel 8/11, Primoz Roglic 2/1, Geraint Thomas 9/1, Tao Geoghegan Hart 12/1, Joao Almeida 14/1

Pundits expect a two-way fight for pink

If recent editions of the Giro d'Italia have taught cycling fans anything, then it is to never to take anything for granted. Where the Giro goes, drama usually follows.

Simon Yates looked to have the pink jersey sewn up in 2018, only for him to crack on Stage 19, allowing Chris Froome to turn a near four-minute deficit in the general classification into a 40-second lead with a stunning solo victory.

In 2020 Tao Geoghegan Hart and Jai Hindley were on the exact same time heading into the final stage, before Geoghegan Hart claimed the Maglia Rosa in a time trial around the streets of Milan.

This year's varied should ensure much of the same, but a greater amount of time-trialling kilometres is certainly a big advantage to market leaders 8/11 Remco Evenepoel and 2/1 Primoz Roglic.

Both are proven three-week racers having won four Vueltas a Espana between them - Roglic three and Evenepoel one - and are experts against the clock, so the 70km of time-trialling in this year's Giro is a huge advantage.

World road race champion Evenepoel was imperious in winning Liege-Bastogne-Liege for a second year in a row a couple of weeks ago and cycling's new kid on the block has targeted the Giro ever since succeeding Roglic as Vuelta champion in September.

Things rarely went right for Roglic in 2022, as he had to abandon the Tour de France and then the Vuelta due to injury.

However, the Slovenian has returned in great form this year, taking home the general classification at Tirreno-Adriatico and the Volta a Catalunya, where he pipped Evenepoel into second.

Both riders have unfinished business with the Giro - Evenepoel failed to complete the race in 2021 in his debut Grand Tour while Roglic was seemingly on his way to the pink jersey two years earlier before fading in the final week - so the stage is set for an intense duel.

Ineos Grenadiers aim to thwart big two

Ineos Grenadiers' last taste of Grand Tour success came at the 2021 Giro courtesy of Egan Bernal's victory and the British squad are double-handed in their bid to end a two-year Grand Tour drought.

Geraint Thomas (9/1), Tour de France champion in 2018, is joined by surprise 2020 Giro winner Geoghegan Hart in a typically powerful Ineos squad.

Londoner Geoghegan Hart (12/1) arrives in Italy in decent form having won the recent Tour of the Alps, where Thomas finished 15th overall, and he could turn out to be the Grenadiers' main hope.

Team UAE Emirates also bring a strong squad to the race in support of Portuguese climber Joao Almeida, who will appreciate the mountain tests in a brutal third week but isn't as strong against the clock as some of his rivals.

Almeida - 14/1 to win outright - finished fourth at the Giro in 2020 and sixth a year later, and he was on course to achieve a similar finish last year before abandoning.

The Portuguese finished third to Roglic and Evenepoel in Catalunya and a first podium finish at a Grand Tour is not out of the question.

Mountain tests will again be decisive

As you would expect from a Grand Tour the general classification battle will likely be won or lost in the mountains.

There are six summit finishes in this year's race, of which four come in the space of five punishing stages in the final week.

The last summit finish forms the concluding half of a 19km mountain time trial from Tarvisio to Monte Lussari Tudor on stage 20 and there is every possibility that there could be a seismic reordering of the standings on those slopes.

Stage 20 is one of three individual time trials on this year's route with two flatter tests opening and closing the first week of action.

There is rarely time to draw breath on such a punishing route and for the sprinters brave enough to take on the challenge, opportunities for stage wins are sparse.

A fast circuit race in Rome will be one such target for the speedsters, but given the punishing nature of the final week in particular, just getting to the Italian capital for the final stage will be an achievement.

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