BUDAPEST (VN) — Only three U.S. riders and one Canadian line up this weekend in Hungary for the 2022 Giro d’Italia in what’s a relatively low number for the North American contingent.
Though there still could be some final week roster changes, this year’s Giro looks to be in one of the leanest North American representations in several years.
Joe Dombrowski (Astana-Qazaqstan), Lawson Craddock (BikeExchange-Jayco), and Will Barta (Movistar) will start Friday in Hungary, with Alexander Cataford (Israel-Premier Tech) the lone Canadian in the race.
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What’s behind the apparent lack of North American legs in the Giro? A few factors.
Such teams that traditionally bring many North American riders such as EF Education-EasyPost and Israel-Premier Tech are coming with more international rosters for the season’s first grand tour.
EF, which sometimes brought up to three U.S. starters over the past decade, doesn’t have one North American on its 2022 Giro roster in what reflects the team’s ever more international profile.
Israel-Premier Tech, which boasts five of the six Canadians in the WorldTour in 2022, only brings Cataford, with Michael Woods and James Piccoli targeting other grand tours this season.
Other teams that traditionally see more North American riders such as BMC Racing or Qhubeka-NextHash are either closed down or, as in the case of Trek-Segafredo, are slotting their North American riders into other races.
Other Giro stalwarts such as stage-winner Chad Haga or former pink jersey winner Svein Tuft have either moved out of the WorldTour, with Haga now riding on Human Powered Health, or retired, as is the case with Tuft, who raced seven editions of the Giro.
U.S. riders have been a steady presence in the Giro since the 1980s.
The odds of an American rider matching Andy Hampsten in the pink jersey at the 2022 Giro d’Italia are pretty slim.
Over the past decade, there’s been a rough average of five U.S. riders starting the Giro.
The most was eight in 2020, when a new generation of riders, including Sepp Kuss and Brandon McNulty, overlapped with such stalwarts as Brent Bookwalter and Haga.
The low mark in the last decade came in 2014 when only Bookwalter and Tyler Farrar started.
Here’s who’s racing in 2022:
Joe Dombrowski (Astana-Qazaqstan)
Giro record: Seventh Giro start
Career best: Stage win in 2021, 12th overall in 2019
Following a string of top-10s and close calls, Dombrowski hit the jackpot last year with a career-first grand tour stage victory. The win came in a perfectly executed attack in stage 4 that not only delivered him the stage honors but put him in pole position for the pink jersey.
Unfortunately, Dombrowski was caught up in a brutal crash the very next day and was forced to leave the Giro.
After a move to Astaną-Qazaqstan, Dombrowski will be once again in stage-hunting mode, and ready to help support the GC candidacies of Miguel Ángel López and Vincenzo Nibali.
Lawson Craddock (BikeExchange-Jayco)
Giro record: 2nd Giro start
Career best: Eighth in opening time trial in 2020 debut
The Texan is doubly motivated for this year’s Giro, his first grand tour since 2020. Last year, he didn’t start a grand tour and with his move to BikeExchange-Jayco, is intent on proving his worth to his new employers.
A pre-race crash at E3 Saxo Bank Classic saw him miss out on the spring classics, but he returned to racing at the Vuelta a Asturias last weekend in Spain where he helped pace team captain Simon Yates to a stage victory.
The Aussie outfit is all-in for Yates, who will start as one of the pre-race favorites. After hitting the podium with third last year, Yates will be looking to keep his chances alive going into the decisive final week.
Craddock is committed to doing everything to help chaperone Yates through the treacheries of the Giro and will be flanking his captain leading into the decisive uphill finales.
Will Barta (Movistar)
Giro record: Giro debut
With two editions of the Vuelta a España on his results sheet, Barta is starting his first Giro with a motivated Movistar Team.
The Spanish “blues” will be riding for Iván Sosa, but will also be on the hunt for stage wins with Alejandro Valverde.
Like many Giro rookies, Barta will likely be trying to bide his time and find his legs in order to be there to help the team’s leaders come crunch time.
A narrow loss to Primož Roglič in the climbing time trial at the 2020 Vuelta at the Mirador de Ézaro by a fraction of a second reveals his quality. The stage 2 time trial might come too early for him as the explosive route will see the GC favorites going all in for victory, but if he hangs around until Verona, he could be in with chances for a Giro top-5 in the final-day time trial.
U.S. riders in the Giro d’Italia:
2021 — Four (Warbasse, Van Garderen, Jorgenson, Dombrowski)
2020 — Eight (Warbasse, Bennett, Craddock, Rosskopf, Bookwalter, Haga, Dombrowski, McNulty)
2019 — Seven (Warbasse, Bennett, Brown, Dombrowski, Bookwalter, Kuss, Haga)
2018 — Four (Haga, King, Dombrowski, Brown)
2017 — Six (Van Garderen, Rosskopf, Dombrowski, Howes, Haga, Stetina)
2016 — Six (Rosskopf, Dombrowski, Brown, Warbasse, Haga, Boswell)
2015 — Five (Bookwalter, Brown, Danielson, Fairly, Haga)
2014 — Two (Farrar, Bookwalter)
2013 — Five (Danielson, Stetina, Vande Velde, Phinney, Pate)
2012 — Four (Phinney, Farrar, Stetina, Vande Velde)