Sandwiched in-between Roubaix and Amstel is the Giro di Sicilia. This 2.1 race isn’t a massive deal, but it does act as important preparation for those going to the Giro d’Italia/Ardennes. We have four stages, and something for everyone is contained within.
The opening stage finishes with 3km at 5.6%, so we’ll see the puncheurs fighting against the explosive climbers.
The second stage is one for the sprinters.
The third stage ends with another uphill sprint, but one that some sprinters will hope to survive. It’s around 1km at 6%, so right on the limit for some of the fast men, and of great interest to the puncheurs, especially as there’s a series of hairpin bends.
The final stage is the big GC day with 4113m of climbing. There might not be a mountaintop finish, but the final two climbs (Etna – Due Monti & Culmine Di Scorcivacca) will blow the bunch to pieces. This is a long and challenging stage.
Damiano Caruso – the defending champion is back. As a local, this is a race which means a lot to him, he’ll be motivated to try and win consecutive titles. When Caruso is on form, he’s a very hard man to beat, especially in a field like this. With the Giro less than one month away, I expect Caruso to be close to his best and the man to beat.
Louis Meintjes – his season hasn’t really kicked off yet, but I’m expecting him to be up there this week. He was 3rd here last year, and he’ll be hoping for something similar this time round. Intermarché arrive with a strong team, they’ll be expecting to challenge for the win in every stage.
Alexey Lutsenko – he’s another who’s not got going yet in 2023. He arrives here looking to get racing in the legs before the Ardennes, I don’t think he’s going to be too bothered about the GC. On his day, he’s a brilliant climber, but if his recent focus has been short climbs, the final stage will be too hard for him.
George Bennett – this should be a rare opportunity for Bennett to chase personal glory. It’s hard to determine what his current form is like as he’s been riding as a domestique, but he’ll be motivated to seize this rare opportunity. Saying that, he could end up riding for Majka.
Rafa Majka – he’s in the same position as Bennett, the road will likely decide who is team leader. Majka has been in decent form this season, and he’ll like the look of the Queen stage. To beat Caruso, it’s important both Majka and Bennett are on form, and they also have Ulissi too. UAE have a strong team; they’ll be hoping to walk away with the title.
Sébastien Reichenbach – now riding for Tudor, he’ll see this as a chance to land a decent result. He would have preferred a mountaintop finish, but he’s got the climbing ability to challenge for the top 5.
Mark Donovan – I’m hoping to see him at his best this week. He might not have set the world alight since turning pro, but Donovan is a quality climber, he just needs a little bit of luck on his side. A top 10 would be good, but he should be aiming for the top 5.
Vincenzo Albanese – it’s just his first race of the season, due to injury, but he sounds confident about his chances. He was 7th here last year, his aim should be the top 5.
Damiano Caruso to take another win.