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Ineos Grenadiers will have two former pink jerseys and a home star at the Giro d’Italia next year.
Team director Matteo Tosatto has indicated that former Giro champions Richard Carapaz and Tao Geoghegan Hart will line up alongside veteran sprinter Elia Viviani and young hotshot Tom Pidcock in a multi-faceted Ineos Grenadiers eight in Italy next May.
“It is not a mystery, I think that our leader will be Carapaz, and with him, there will also be Pidcock,” Tosatto told Bici.pro.
“We will make a great team to win the Giro. In addition to Carapaz and Pidcock, there will also be Geoghegan Hart who won it by surprise in 2020. That’s the way it is now, then in the January training camp we will further refine the programs.”
Carapaz has become one of the riders most likely to break Tadej Pogačar and Primož Roglič’s stranglehold on GC racing in recent seasons.
Podium finishes at both the 2020 Vuelta and this summer’s Tour after starting as one of many leaders back up his breakout win at the 2019 Giro while racing with Team Movistar.
“Thank you Ineos Grenadiers for the confidence to be your leader in the Giro d’Italia,” Carapaz wrote on Instagram this week. “We will do our best in 2022.”
Should Carapaz go to the Giro, the door will be left open for Egan Bernal and his dream to return to the top of the Tour de France in 2022.
Geraint Thomas or a Giro-weary Carapaz could ride shotgun alongside the Colombian in his first appearance at the Tour since his disappointment and DNF last summer.
Ineos racing for pink jerseys and sprint wins with Viviani’s return
With Richie Porte also signaling his hope to race the Giro d’Italia in his final season before retiring next year, Ineos Grenadiers will be bristling with options – Porte, Carapaz, and Geoghegan Hart – in the battle for the pink jersey.
But 2022 will also see a shift in the Brit crew’s grand tour script.
Next season will be the first time the team fields a dedicated sprinter alongside its climbing collective since Viviani and Mikel Landa shared leadership at Team Sky in the 2016 Giro.
Five-time Giro stage winner Viviani is back with his former team in 2022, and his home grand tour will sit alongside the Wollongong road worlds and track racing as a top priority. Tosatto suggested the sprinter will both race for wins and work as a domestique where he can.
“His and our goal is to be in the Giro d’Italia. But let’s see how the first months will go,” Tosatto said of Viviani. “We also evaluated the Vuelta to prepare for the world championships but, with the calendar we have set, August and September will be two important months and we can prepare for the world championship just as well.
“Elia proved that in a great Giro he can win and help. I remember the year he won the Tour stage and then worked for Alaphilippe (with Quick-Step in 2019). And in the Giro, he knows the areas and can also help the leader.”
Tosatto on Viviani: ‘It will be important to win early’
Ineos Grenadiers hopes to revitalize Viviani in 2022.
The 32-year-old didn’t win a WorldTour race in his two seasons with Cofidis and was far from his prolific best of late last decade.
Ineos Grenadiers only has limited lead-out options, but Tosatto hinted that British champ Ben Swift could have an important role to play for his new teammate. However, he indicated that confidence would be just as important in seeing the Italian back in the top-flight of sprinters.
“It will be important to be able to win early. If you get off to a good start, it all comes easy. On the other hand, if something starts to go wrong, you want to change your plans and you can’t get out of it,” Tosatto said. “So, Elia will go to Argentina (Vuelta a San Juan) and the UAE Tour to do well. Then the goal will be to get to Tirreno and Sanremo in good form.”
Viviani will join countryman Filippo Ganna and rising Brit Ethan Hayter as one of Ineos Grenadiers’ growing track contingent.
After winning the elimination race world title in 2021, Viviani will continue to race on the boards as he counts down toward the 2024 Olympics.
“Definitely yes, because he has seen how it has been decisive for him in recent years,” Tosatto said of Viviani’s track ambitions. “On this he has the total support of the team, also having a special relationship with Pinarello. Then let’s not forget that he and Filippo are two very important lights for the national team and can be the drivers of young people even in the team.”