The Giro d’Italia begins on Saturday 8 May with Britain’s Simon Yates the favourite to win the Italian Grand Tour for the first time.
Yates, of Team BikeExchange, famously went close to winning the Giro in 2018 before being on the receiving end of a Chris Froome miracle ride on the Colle delle Finnestre. And the 28-year-old is preaching the need for patience this time around.
"We have to be careful at all moments, save energy when we can but of course we have to try and win the race and for me, I will have to take some time at some point before the final time trial,” Yates said ahead of the opening time trial. “We'll see how it goes but calm, cautious and we'll just try to do our best.
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"It will be challenging and of course the stage with the gravel I'll be looking to avoid any mishaps, any crashes, any splits and really concentrate on later in the race.
“You look at the last few years the race has always been won in the third week. There are guys who come from nowhere to win the bike race. I know that very personally as well.”
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One of the biggest expected challenges for Yates will come from Ineos Grenadiers leader Egan Bernal. The 2019 Tour de France winner is back on the bike after successful surgery on a back injury that highly impacted his 2020 season, and admits that his form isn’t quite where it once was.
“I don't think I’m in the same form I was when I won the Tour, but I want to get it back, and I want to find the confidence that I had before,” Bernal said.
“Last year was definitely not an easy one for me. I really want to find that confidence here at the Giro and I'm really motivated.”
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Other likely contenders to win the race are Britain’s Hugh Carthy, Spanish veteran Mikel Landa and potentially even rising Belgian star Remco Evenepoel.
That trio all spoke to assembled media this week ahead of the start in Turin.
“I’ve had a podium at a Grand Tour, so why can’t I aim for the win?” he said. “I’m not one of the big, big favourites, but I’m in the mix and I’ll take that in my stride.”
“I’m in good form, and this could be my first one,” Landa said. “This is a great opportunity for me.
“My rivals are much better specialists in the time trial, but there are a lot of mountains and we’ll take advantage of that.”
“I’m just happy to be at the start finally almost 10 months after the crash, so it’s almost a year without racing," Evenepoel said, referring to the crash last August that ruled him out for the entire rescheduled season.
“My goal here is just to feel well in the bunch again and have fun with the guys, because I’ve missed racing. Thinking about those early mountain top finishes is not the thing that I’m worrying about for now.
“It’s my first race after the big crash so I don’t know how the body will react. I have no pressure.
“The main goal of the season is the Olympics and I’ve always said that. It has been too long so I can’t say I’m better than last year or I’m feeling more confidence, so we’ll see day-by-day.”
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