2023 Giro d’Italia Preview

It’s time for the first grand tour of the year. We head to Italy for what’s being billed as Roglič versus Evenepoel, I think we’re in for one hell of a fight for the pink jersey.

No foreign start this year, the race begins on the east coast of Italy, not far from Pescara. The riders have a 19.6km ITT to get their teeth into. Nearly 17km of flat roads, then a few bumps to finish with. Who will be in pink at the end of the day?

The first proper road stage and a day for the sprinters. It’s not the highest quality sprint field, maybe a chance for someone to get their first grand tour win.

Scenario – bunch sprint.

With two categorised climbs in the final 40km, this is going to be tough for some of the sprinters, it all depends on how hard they hit the climbs.

Scenario – reduced sprint.

A lumpy day with almost 3600m of climbing, but not hard enough for the GC men to make a difference. It’s a wonderful day for a breakaway rider to move into the pink jersey and potentially keep it for several days.

Scenario – breakaway day.

The opening half of the stage is constantly up and down, but with a lot of flat in the final 60km, it should be another chance for the fast men.

Scenario – bunch sprint.

A stage that starts and finishes in Naples, hopefully it stays dry as the roads in this part of the world get very slippy when wet. There’s a tough cat 2 climb after 40km, but I think this is another day which will interest the fast men.

Scenario – bunch sprint.

The first uphill finish of the race. The climb of Gran Sasso d’Italia was used back in 2018, Simon Yates was first home that day. The gradient might not be too high, but the riders are climbing for almost 45km up to the line.

Scenario – GC day.

The bunch head north and are faced with a classic “Tirreno” stage. Far too hard for the sprinters, not hard enough for the GC men, it’s a day which will interest the attackers.

Scenario – breakaway day.

35km ITT, a huge day in the fight for the pink jersey. The first rest day follows this stage.

The second week opens with another stage that has a lumpy opening half and a flat second half. 

Scenario – bunch sprint.

The longest stage of the race, and another day which will interest the fast finishers.

Scenario – a slightly reduced bunch sprint.

The cat 2 climb in the final 40km is very demanding, around 11km at 5.7%, the pure sprinters don’t stand a chance. Could it be a day for a climbing sprinter?

Scenario – depending on what’s happened so far in the race, Jayco could pull for Matthews, but that opens the door for a late attack to take the win.

The first of the proper GC days, with three big mountains to climb. 

Scenario – GC day.

Legs will be sore after the previous stage, and the cat 1 climb starts after 35km, which will lead to a strong break getting away. We’ll have to see if the sprint teams can get together after the climb and chase it down.

Scenario – reduced sprint.

Another stage which has a tough climb relatively close to the start, great news for the attackers.

Scenario – breakaway day.

The final week begins with a big mountain day with a finish at Monte Bondone. In terms of climbing, this is the hardest stage in the race, and coming after the second rest day will put fear into the hearts of the GC riders.

Scenario – GC day.

A sprint stage, but how many fast men will still be standing?

Scenario – bunch sprint.

The final 35km of this stage is very difficult, GC riders will test each other, and some will crack. 

Scenario – breakaway day.

The finish at Tre Cime di Lavaredo is a leg breaking 3.3km at 12.6%. Hopefully the gaps on GC are still relatively close and the pink jersey is still up for grabs.

Scenario – GC day.

The craziest mountain TT I’ve ever seen in my life. The climb starts with 4.7km at 15%, that’s insane! With the stage being very close to Slovenia, the locals will hope Roglič is in pink. The crowds on this stage will be jaw dropping.

The race ends with a sprint finish in Rome.

Scenario – bunch sprint.


Remco Evenepoel – time for some honesty from me. I acknowledge that Remco is an amazing cyclist and one of the best in the sport, but can he be trusted to perform over the next three weeks? Last year, he won Liège in spectacular fashion, and followed that up with the Tour of Norway, but it was only the Tour of Norway. He was way off the pace in Suisse, but then a switch was flicked, and he hit new heights in San Sebastian, Vuelta and world championships. This year he was off his best in San Juan, got dropped by Yates in the UAE Tour, and Roglič cracked him in the closing metres of Lo Port, but he was still in the “building” phase. After another spell at altitude, he returned to racing in Liège and blew everyone away, but there wasn’t a Pogačar to give a proper comparison of form. I’m trying to say that someone who’s performed at the highest level in only a handful of races is always going to have some questions to answer. In the past, he’s been vulnerable on double-digit gradients, and there’s plenty of them in the final week, including the TT. He arrives with a strong team to support, but when we’re in the final 5km of the big mountain stages, he’s likely to be alone. His normal response to this is to attack, but we saw in Catalunya that he doesn’t always make the right tactical decisions. He might already have the Vuelta in his pocket, but he needs to win this race before taking his seat at the top table.

Primož Roglič – his performance in Catalunya was huge, he knows he can beat Evenepoel. The issue is the TTs, despite Roglič being good against the clock, he’s likely to lose time to Evenepoel. This means it’s the Slovenian who needs to be the aggressor in the mountains, something I’m looking forward to. Jumbo-Visma planned on bring Kelderman to the race, which would have given them a second option on GC, and a tactical advantage over Soudal – Quick Step, but his injury means that Sepp Kuss is here. Kuss and Roglič ride well together, Roglič knows that he’ll have a teammate to support him deep into the mountain stages, which is an advantage.

Tao Geoghegan Hart – has enjoyed an excellent season, but competing against Remco and Primoz will need him to find a new level. It’s contract year, and I hear that he won’t be staying with Ineos. It’s likely he’s already signed a deal with someone, but his agent should have negotiated a higher wage, if he performs well here. The podium would be a huge achievement.

Geraint Thomas – unlike the youngsters of the sport, he can’t hold a peak for months on end, he carefully manages his form to peak for the biggest races. Last year, he was the best of the rest in the Tour de France, despite all the talk about this being a two-horse race, I think Thomas could push them all the way.

Aleksandr Vlasov – he’s been way off it this season, and so have his team. Can he magically turn his form around and challenge for the pink jersey? I don’t think so.

João Almeida – 2nd in Tirreno, 3rd in Catalunya, Almeida arrives here with confidence. UAE have the strongest team in the race, they could spring a surprise or two. Last year he had to quit the race while sitting in 4th place, which is where he finished the race in 2020. He has a big chance of finishing on the podium, which would be his best result in a grand tour. 

Hugh Carthy – 2nd in the Tour of the Alps was great preparation for the Giro, he’s another who arrives with confidence. Hugh ended last year’s race in brilliant form, he was the second-best climber in the race, only behind Hindley in my opinion. 3rd at the Vuelta in 2020 is his best grand tour result, a similar result here is within his capabilities. I’m looking at the final week, the climbs suit him down to the ground, this is where he’ll be at his most dangerous.

Damiano Caruso – Bahrain come in with Haig as their main man, but I think Caruso could turn out to be the chosen one. He disappointed in the Giro di Sicilia but was back to good form in Romandie. Two years ago, he came very close to winning the pink jersey, he’s not a rider who should be underestimated.

Prediction Time

I’m hoping for a battle of the ages.

Embed from Getty Images

A first pink jersey for Primož Roglič.


Leave a Reply