Road

Editors’ Picks: We (try to) predict the Giro podium

The team of VeloNews experts names their favorites for the Giro d'Italia overall podium.

Here are our rapid-fire predictions for the top-three overall at the Giro d’Italia. The VeloNews editorial staff will make predictions for major races throughout the season.

John Bradley, editor in chief
Picks:
1. Vincenzo Nibali
2. Mikel Landa
3. Alejandro Valverde

Nibali is the clear favorite, and for good reason. He’s simply at different level from everyone else in the race. This is also his first tilt at his home grand tour since 2013. He won it that year, and he’s finished on the podium the past three times he’s raced the Giro. (Of course, it’s rare in recent years for him to finish off the podium in a grand tour.)

Landa showed last year that he can threaten in this race, and this season he’s coming off a strong spring that included a GC win in the recently concluded Giro del Trentino. He should be fine in the uphill TT in stage 15, but he’ll need to limit his losses in the other 50 kilometers of time trialing in store. In the end, that’s probably what will keep him off the top step.

How is Valverde going to fare in his first Giro? Much like he did in last year’s Tour. He won’t attack on the big climbs, and he may not even win a stage, but he’ll stay near the front, be solid in the TTs, and arrive at the finish in third place.

Spencer Powlison, news director
Picks:
1. Vincenzo Nibali
2. Rigoberto Uran
3. Ryder Hesjedal

With three time trial stages, this Giro is a little different than others in recent memory, and I think that will play in Nibali’s favor. Plus, he’s got a killer Astana team. Uran’s Cannondale outfit is not as battle-proven, but he’ll do well against the clock. With five hard mountain stages stacked in the final week, I think Hesjedal will battle onto the podium, like he almost did last year.

Chris Case, managing editor
Picks:
1. Vincenzo Nibali
2. Rigoberto Uran
3. Mikel Landa

Nibali has that special quality to pull something off even though he might not be in perfect form; he doesn’t seem to have quite hit his stride yet. He also just knows how to win grand tours. And the Astana team will be hard to surpass. Uran has finished second twice before, and I have the feeling that’s his ceiling, unfortunately. But he has the experience to outlast Landa, who has looked good but may not have the race days to endure for three weeks. Landa missed much of the early season, but once he started he was right there among the best. He’ll animate the race, but fade in the third week due to missing those early season racing days.

Caley Fretz, senior editor
Picks:
1. Mikel Landa
2. Tom Dumoulin
3. Ilnur Zakarin

I’m avoiding the obvious Nibali pick. Tom Dumoulin will take significant time and the maglia rosa in the 40km Chianti time trial, but won’t be able to hold off a charging Mikel Landa in the final week. Landa will be the strongest in the high mountains, and at the Giro that’s usually what matters most. Ilnur Zakarin is no longer the surprise he was at least year’s Tour de Romandie. Supported by a strong Katusha team, he’ll sniff around the edges and find his way to the podium.

Andrew Hood, European correspondant
Picks:
1. Alejandro Valverde
2. Vincenzo Nibali
3. Rafal Majka

Valverde has the team, experience, and fitness to win. The longer TT and route design will also help him against Landa. Nibali will be right there, because he has the strongest team in the race, so it should be a dog-fight all the way to Torino. But Astana’s Italian champ will finish second with Majka rounding out the podium. The Tinkoff rider is super-thin this season, and he’s been working hard to be ready for the Giro. I think he will be the “surprise” rider of the month.

Dan Cavallari, tech editor
Picks:
1. Vincenzo Nibali
2. Mikel Landa
3. Rigoberto Uran

At first I had Valverde on the third step, but I think Uran’s got more to prove with a new team and a lot of almosts to live down. This one’s a coin-toss, perhaps edging toward Valverde, but I’m hopeful that Uran’s got
the drive to give him a boost.

Landa has perhaps the strongest team behind him, but he needs to be even better than he was last year to get on the second step. It all comes down to his drive: Can he overcome his TT weakness and build a strong enough lead over the likes of Valverde and Uran to claim second?

Never discount Nibali. He hasn’t looked amazing so far, but that may not mean much when it comes to delivering in Italy. He’s got a proven track record and a strong team to help him build a GC lead early on, and the legs to keep it in the mountains.

Kristen Legan, associate editor
Picks:
1. Alejandro Valverde
2. Vincenzo Nibali
3. Rigoberto Uran

Nibali feels like the safer bet for the win but I’m hoping Valverde shakes things up with his attacking style. It will also be fun to see what Uran can do with Cannondale’s team support behind him.

Gregor Brown, reporter
Picks:
1. Vincenzo Nibali
2. Mikel Landa
3. Alejandro Valverde

It’s hard not to select Nibali as the winner of the Giro, given his pedigree in grand tours. It’s his race to lose and it’s his way of saying thanks to Astana. He will put a minute into Landa in the Chianti time trial and hold that gap through the mountainous third week. The spiral trophy would be a parting gift of sorts to Astana, since he is linked with new a Bahraini team for 2017. If Nibali should stumble, the race becomes wide open with several serious contenders, including Tom Dumoulin and Esteban Chaves. Landa appears as the clear favorite in that field and Valverde, 36 years old and debuting in the Giro, should ride on experience to a podium spot.

Dane Cash, web editor and reporter
Picks:
1. Vincenzo Nibali
2. Mikel Landa
3. Alejandro Valverde

With a well-rounded skill-set and a wealth of experience winning grand tours (he’s won all three), Nibali has what it takes to win this Giro. An elite climber and one of the best descenders in the peloton, Nibali is a dangerous rider any time the road goes up or down, and he can hold his own in a time trial too. Landa has a shot for the pink jersey as well, if he can limit his losses in the stage 9 TT, while Valverde makes for a strong podium pick in just about every race he targets.