The Giro d'Italia kicks off on Saturday and we can't wait for the first kilometers. Last year, Jay Hindley surprisingly won, but this year Remco Evenepoel and Primoz Roglic are the favorites. We look ahead with an interview with Bram van der Ploeg, editor-in-chief of the popular cycling website IDLProCycling.com. We ask him five questions and his expertise gives us many surprising insights into the cycling peloton and the upcoming Tour of Italy.
1. Last year's entire podium - with Jai Hindley, Richard Carapaz and Mikel Landa - is absent. Why are these riders not participating this year?
"All three of them are good climbers, but they are weaker on the time trials. The Giro of this year features two long time trials and also a race against the clock with an uphill finish in the last week. In the Tour, there is only one short time trial and a record number of cols included. Therefore, the odds that Hindley, Carapaz and/or Landa will be on the podium of the Tour this year is greater than ever."
2. The two main contenders, according to the bookmakers, are Roglic and Evenepoel. Do you consider Jumbo-Visma strong enough to win the Giro d'Italia?
"Jumbo-Visma was incredibly strong, but has lost a lot of ground. Wilco Kelderman already dropped out earlier this year after a crash in the Tirreno and Tobias Foss had to withdraw due to illness this week. Add to that list a sick Robert Gesink, and Roglic has lost three very important helpers for the mountains. Sepp Kuss should be able to be at least as good as Kelderman, but it remains to be seen whether Rohan Dennis can contribute enough in the mountains. Jos van Emden is of course no Gesink. Jumbo-Visma remains a formidable force, but it remains to be seen how many helpers Roglic will have left in the Giro. With Michel Hessmann, Koen Bouwman and Kuss, there could still be a lot of them."
3. Which riders will continue their strong spring season in the Tour of Italy?
"Good question. A good spring is generally no guarantee for a good Giro. But it's already nice to see that Tao Geoghegan Hart at INEOS and Hugh Carthy at EF finally seem to have regained their top form from 2020. For this question, I would also like to refer to our article full of pool tips, made by my IDLProCycling colleague Tom! He has identified ten riders to keep an eye out for, including Vincenzo Albanese and Santiago Buitrago." Here is the link to the article.
4. Cavendish won the points jersey in the Giro exactly 10 years ago. Is he strong enough to repeat that feat in his old age, or will the purple jersey go to someone else?
"I do rule out a purple jersey for Cavendish, yes. He hasn't won a stage yet this season and doesn't seem to have a very strong lead-out at Astana. For purple, you really have to think of sprinters who can climb a mountain well and gather a lot of points that way. Think of Mads Pedersen (assuming he finishes the Giro, because he's also participating in the Tour this year), Kaden Groves and Michael Matthews. Cavendish is in a lesser phase, although he may surprise us. Don't be surprised if he still grabs a stage win."
5. Are there any rookies who are going to make a spectacular first impression?
"Ben Healy had a rock solid spring in the Ardennes, so I expect him to perform well in time trials, mountain stages and breakaways during the first two weeks. Jay Vine is an interesting addition to UAE Team Emirates, having won two stages in the Vuelta last year. However, he may lack race rhythm after recovering from a knee injury - but I see him as a strong contender for the grueling final week."
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