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Giro d'Italia

Giro d’Italia: Andy Schleck ranks the top 10 contenders

From Carapaz to Carthy, Andy Schleck rates 10 potential contenders for the Giro d'Italia.

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Ahead of the start of the Giro d’Italia we’ve “handed the keys to the castle” to former Tour de France winner, and 2007 Giro d’Italia runner-up Andy Schleck, to pick 10 high profile contenders for the top-ten overall and rate their chances of success for this year’s Giro.

Richard Carapaz (Ineos Grenadiers) starts as the main race favorite after his win in 2019, and his subsequent podiums in both the Tour de France and the Vuelta a Espana. But according to Andy, the Olympic road champion will face plenty of competition from the likes of Simon Yates, Miguel Ángel López, and perhaps even 2017 winner Tom Dumoulin.

Key Giro d’Italia race features

★★★★★ Richard Carapaz

Richard Carapaz returns to the Giro for the first time since winning it in 2019. (Photo: Stuart Franklin/Getty Images)

Team: Ineos Grenadiers
Age: 28
In my opinion the 2019 Giro d’Italia winner comes into this year’s race as the hot favorite for overall victory. While the wider consensus is that this edition of the race could go down to the wire, Carapaz arrives with perhaps the most assured credentials. He’s won the race previously — with a weaker team no less — and his tactical acumen is such that his characteristics perfectly suit the unpredictable nature of the race. He can climb with the best, hold his own against the clock, but most importantly seize a race by the scruff of the neck and dictate the action. At present, he’s the only former winner in the race who looks capable of doing that. He’s my top pick.

Ineos Grenadiers also arrive with a punchy team. It could be stronger, another climber such as Eddie Dunbar would have been my tip, but Richie Porte and Pavel Sivakov have the potential to provide sufficient cover while having a DS like Matteo Tosatto in the car gives them a huge advantage when it comes to experience.

★★★★ Simon Yates

Yates is a four-star favorites for the 2022 Giro GC.  (Photo: Bas Czerwinski/Getty Images)

Team: Team BikeExchange
Age: 29
A recent hit-out at Asturias summed up Yates in a nutshell. For two stages he was unbeatable but those performances bookended a day on which the British climber overheated and lost considerable time. A bad day in Asturias will not define Yates’ Giro d’Italia, but it certainly provides a timely reminder that inconsistency can creep into the 29-year-old’s armor. On his best day he has the potential to win the Giro with one sublime attack, and he knows how to win a grand tour having come through in 2018 to edge out Enric Mas and Miguel Angel Lopez at the Vuelta. The route also suits Yates and his climbing repertoire through medium and high mountains. Along with his ability to produce the odd bad day, there’s also a question mark over the depth within the team. A strong Ineos almost helps BikeExchange because the Australian team can rely on their fellow English-speaking counterparts to control the race.

★★★★ João Almeida

Team: UAE Team Emirates
Age: 23
The UAE Team Emirates leader has a clear run at the race after last year’s somewhat confusing collaboration with Remco Evenepoel. The 23-year-old will be backed by a very decent-looking squad that includes Davide Formolo and the experienced David de la Cruz. Despite a lack of time trial kilometers, many outsiders feel as though it’s the right time for a true Almeida challenge. He’s been solid rather than spectacular so far in the campaign but the way in which he steadily rose up the standings in last year’s race before claiming a creditable sixth overall demonstrated both his qualities as an athlete and a potential leader. There are stronger climbers in the race, and certainly, ones with more experience who have either won grand tours or stood on the podium, but Almeida looks like he’s ready for the next phase of his career.

★★★ Miguel Ángel López

Miguel Ángel López returned to the 67th Vuelta A Andalucia as defending champion. (Photo: Gonzalo Arroyo Moreno/Getty Images)

Team: Astana Qazaqstan
Age: 28
Until 2020, Miguel Ángel López’s grand tour career was among the most consistent in the world, with the Colombian constantly hovering around the top-5 in all three of cycling’s three-week races. Then everything dropped off a cliff for the 28-year-old with three consecutive DNFs culminating with the farcical scenes we saw at last year’s Vuelta a Espana. Back at Astana, the diminutive climber at least looks like he’s somewhere near his best with a decent start to the season and a team stacked with support. The course looks ideal due to the lack of time trial kilometers, and López comes in with added motivation as he aims to show Movistar just what they are missing. The presence of Vincenzo Nibali will either be a distraction or a buffer when it comes to pressure and truthfully it’s almost impossible to predict which version of López will show up. All we can guarantee is that it will be entertaining nevertheless.

★★★ Mikel Landa

Mikel Landa lit up the climb Saturday at Tirreno-Adriatico. (Photo: Fabio Ferrari – Pool/Getty Images)

Team: Bahrain Victorious
Age: 32
Like López, the Spaniard was actually incredibly consistent when it came to grand tour racing until around 2021. Then everything started to go wrong with crashes effectively ruining a year’s worth of work. Landa probably doesn’t get the credit he deserves as a grand tour rider, but his main issue — before 2021 — was always his knack for drifting out of contention before resurrecting his overall position with a sensational final week. It’s the Landa way. Once again, the 32-year-old can’t afford to apply such a strategy. The first mountain stage comes as soon as the race returns to Italian soil, while there are several potential ambush stages that threaten to expose the Spaniard’s default position of losing time early. However, if Landa can remain in contention and avoid any early race mistakes he has the class to come through in the final week. Can he find a way to win or will it be a case of finding another way to lose?

★★★ Romain Bardet

Romain Bardet was the overall race winner at the 2022 Tour of the Alps. (Photo: Photo by Tim de Waele/Getty Images)

Team: DSM
Age: 31
The Frenchman finished seventh in last year’s race, prompting talk of a mini-revival after a lean spell towards the end of his time at AG2R. This season, the 31-year-old has improved another notch, taking the overall at the Tour of Alps. There’s a massive difference in terms of intensity and quality between that race and the Giro, but Bardet arrives in Budapest with genuine hopes of a top-5 or even a podium place. For that to happen he’ll need an element of luck and for some of his competition to fall by the wayside, but this is a rider who once competed at the very top end of the Tour de France. While speeds have increased and the depth of GC riders has grown, Bardet remains a class act both on and off the bike. The dearth of time trialing kilometers is another bonus, while Thymen Arensman could provide some excellent cover when it’s needed most.

★★ Guillaume Martin

CANTAL, FRANCE - SEPTEMBER 11: Arrival / Guillaume Martin of France and Team Cofidis Solutions Credits / during the 107th Tour de France 2020, Stage 13 a 191,5km stage from Châtel-Guyon to Pas de Peyrol-Le Puy Mary Cantal 1589m / #TDF2020 / @LeTour / on September 11, 2020 in Cantal, France. (Photo by Anne-Christine Poujoulat - Pool/Getty Images)
Guillaume Martin, shown here in the 2020 Tour de France, said he believes ketones should be banned. (Photo: Anne-Christine Poujoulat – Pool/Getty Images)

Team: Cofidis
Age: 28
Martin heads into his maiden Giro d’Italia slightly under the radar but he shouldn’t be written off when it comes to possible top-ten status. He’s a solid climber and knows how to handle three-week races. What stands out though is his ability to sense the right moves to follow and that could be key given that his Cofidis team will struggle to support him in the mountains. Not many of the top riders will be watching Martin, and that provides elements of freedom and opportunity for the French rider.

★★ Hugh Carthy

Hugh Carthy won the final stage of the Vuelta a Burgos
Hugh Carthy won the final stage of the 2021 Vuelta a Burgos. (Photo: Gonzalo Arroyo Moreno/Getty Images)

Team: EF Education-EasyPost
Age: 27

Like Martin, Hugh Carthy has the quality and the experience to make a real impression on this year’s Giro d’Italia. Unlike the Frenchman, however, Carthy has stood on the podium in a grand tour back in 2020. Since then, he’s not quite kicked-on in terms of results, but grand tour racing is a fickle and complicated beast, and it’s hard to measure results against performance at times. Coming into this year’s race, Carthy’s preparation hasn’t been ideal with two bouts of illness during a punctured spring campaign. He still has a consistent winter, and his form has shown improvements over the last few weeks, which indicates that he could be peaking just at the right time. He was in the mix for a podium in last year’s race, so if he can avoid any pitfalls and remain healthy then a top-5 isn’t out of the question.

★★ Wilco Kelderman

Wilco Kelderman struggled on the hot, 219km stage 13 of the 2021 Tour de France. (Photo: Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

Team: Bora-Hansgrohe
Age: 31
Bora-Hansgrohe comes into the race with three potential leaders in Kelderman, Jai Hindley, and Emanuel Buchmann, but it’s Kelderman who makes the top of the list. His form has been average so far this year and he broke his pelvis towards the end of last season, so it’s only fair to cut the Dutchman some slack. His record in three-week races is a lot better than people give him credit for, with six top-10 placings in 12 attempts and only one DNF. Keeping upright will remain his greatest obstacle, but if he can manage that then another top-ten should be on the cards. Kelderman won’t challenge for the maglia rosa but his quality and sticking power in the mountains will ensure that he’s never out of the frame either.

★★Tom Dumoulin

Former winner Tom Dumoulin hopes to be close Friday to have a chance in Saturday’s time trial to win pink. (Photo: LUCA BETTINI/AFP via Getty Images)

Team: Jumbo-Visma
Age: 31
The 2022 Giro is the first grand tour for the Dutchman since 2020, and a return to the race he won back in 2017. That edition of the race remains one of the best editions of the Giro d’Italia in recent memory but a lot has happened since. Dumoulin is not the rider he once was, and while it’s heartwarming to see that he’s pieced his career back together after a break, the rest of the sport has moved on. His illness and injury problems this year aside, it’s hard to see Dumoulin troubling the best in the race for the top step on the podium, but that lack of pressure will suit him down to the ground. If he can make it through the dangerous first week without conceding time, and then patch together some form in the high mountains, then perhaps the race can open up for him. Everything would have to go perfectly for a Dumoulin challenge to emerge but it would certainly be the story of the season and without question dwarf his achievements from five years ago.