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The 103rd Giro d’Italia is set to launch this Saturday, October 3rd from its new departure location in Sicily. Organizer RCS Sport announced the revised route in July, a couple of months after the race was forced to postpone from its traditional dates in May due to Covid-19.
The brave riders choosing to take on a grand tour double within a season typically have close to a month to recover before facing the next 21-day challenge. The Tour de France wrapped less than a fortnight ago on the Champs-Élyées with the World Championships sandwiched in between.
Peter Sagan is one such rider, having announced his upcoming debut at the Giro during the course announcement last fall, prior to the pandemic. He was dethroned following a seven-year domination in the points classification at the Tour, but will be an obvious favorite in the fight for the Maglia Ciclamino jersey in Italy.
The 2020 Giro d’Italia will feature three individual time trials that bookend the start and final stages, with another on stage 14. The multiple time trials should favor the GC contenders who are strong in the discipline. There are plenty of summit finishes including the late addition of Mount Etna on stage three, and Roccaraso on stage nince.
Below we dive into the favorites who could be the final wearer of the Maglia Rosa just before the sun sets in Milan.
The 2018 Tour de France champion had a tough restart to the season, which found him missing from the Tour squad. A shock to cycling fans who have become accustomed to seeing Thomas at the Tour throughout the last decade. He quickly refocused for the Giro, and is back on track finishing second on GC behind Simon Yates at Tirreno-Adriatico last week and fourth in the World Championships Time Trial in Imola, Italy.
2020 will be his fourth participation at the Giro, hoping for better luck this time. His last took place in 2017, where he was forced to abandon in stage 14 due to injuries sustained in a crash early in the second week. He is a time trial specialist and could likely snatch his first career stage win at the Giro, gaining valuable time against his GC rivals in one of the three stages. He has finished second three times in past individual time trial stages at the Giro.
Ineos Grenadiers will have one of the strongest teams at the race, with a fierce Latin American contingency backing him up in the mountains including Ivan Sosa, Jhonatan Narváez, Sebastián Henao, and Andrey Amador.
The other half of the Yates twin brothers will be leading the Mitchelton-Scott Giro d’Italia team. He will arrive in Sicily, hot off his overall win at Tirreno-Adriatico last week that included a stage win and finishing second in the king of the mountains classification.
Yates has three Giro stage wins and a Vuelta a España win among his list of palmarés. With his season target set firmly on winning the Maglia Rosa, beating Geraint Thomas last week should prove to be a perfect warm-up and confidence boost ahead of the Giro. He will likely struggle in the time trials, looking to gain more time in his comfort zone in the mountains.
Eyeing a third Maglia Rosa, Nibali is the sole favorite who has already won each of the grand tours, the Giro twice in 2013 and 2016. At 35 years of age, his chances of leading a grand tour are waning however.
The first week will be special, racing at home in Sicily, but he will also be racing alongside his brother, Antonio Nibali, who has been his teammate since his move to Bahrain-McLaren in 2017. Also supporting him will be the climbing talents of Giulio Ciccone, the winner of the king of the mountains in 2019.
Nibali finished fourth at Paris-Nice prior to the lockdown, but has struggled to find form since the restart. He is a skilled descender, which should give him the advantage in the opening time trial. The Shark is a master at patience, and coupled with his experience in grand tours, must always be considered for the overall.
Much of Fuglsang’s early career was spent as a domestique helping the Schleck brothers reach the podium at the Tour de France. Since his move to Astana he has found multiple success in one-week races, including winning the Critérium Du Dauphiné twice and the Vuelta a Andalucia this season prior to the lock down.
Fuglsang is also 35 years of age, is still looking for his first grand tour win. He returned from lockdown, continuing the success finishing second on GC at the Tour de Pologne, winning Il Lombardia, and finishing fifth at both Strade Bianche, and the World Championships Road Race on Sunday.
Kruijswijk was set for the Tour de France until a crash and shoulder injury at the Critérium du Dauphiné forced him to watch in earnest from afar. In a press release by his team during the Tour, Kruijswijk stated that his shoulder was improving every day and was confident he would be ready for the GC battle at the Giro.
He has plenty of experience in grand tours, finishing on the podium at the Tour last season, and several top ten finishes at the Giro, including fourth place in 2016.
That year he was poised for victory, spending several days in pink, until a crash derailed him in the final week. With no racing days since his crash at the Dauphiné, he will learn quickly whether he will be up for the fight or be forced to change his tactics once again.