For all the drama at this year’s wet and wild Giro d’Italia, the general classification battle has been unavoidably underwhelming.
Pre-race favourite Remco Evenepoel (Soudal Quick-Step) pulled out due to Covid ahead of the first rest day, just hours after surging into the leader’s pink jersey, while Ineos’ hopes of a twin GC threat unravelled when 2020 champion Tao Geoghegan Hart abandoned with a fractured hip after a freak crash on Stage 11.
It leaves just two former Grand Tour champions on the field, Geraint Thomas (Ineos Grenadiers) and Primoz Roglic (Jumbo-Visma), who have been happy to cruise through the second week without fireworks.
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Just two seconds separate the pair in the race for the maglia rosa, which is currently held by Bruno Armirail (Groupama-FDJ) after Ineos deliberately let it go to the unheralded Frenchman to preserve energy ahead of a brutal final week in and around the Dolomites.
So who will leave Italy draped in pink and clutching the Endless Trophy? The Breakaway gang of Orla Chennaoui, Robbie McEwen, Adam Blythe and Dan Lloyd offered their thoughts ahead of the second and final rest day…


Primoz Roglic | Giro d'Italia 2023

Image credit: Getty Images

Prior to the race kicking off on the Italian coast, Chennaoui, McEwen and Lloyd backed Roglic for the overall title, with Blythe picking Evenepoel and no one plumping for Thomas.
Roglic is expected to excel in a final week that features four leg-sapping days in the mountains, including Tuesday’s Stage 16 that features over 5000m of vertical gain.
But if Roglic’s climbing ability cannot be questioned, his ability to stay upright can. He has failed to finish three of his last four Grand Tours and has already hit the tarmac at least twice at the Giro this year.
“It’s hard not to say Primoz now,” said Blythe when asked who he was now backing for the maglia rosa. "He’s not attacked once in this race so far, he’s been so calm. He’s not had that many major problems.
"He's had stitches – but what are stitches to Primoz Roglic?”


Geraint Thomas | Ineos Grenadiers

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Thomas arrived in Italy with a big question mark hanging over him, admitting to Eurosport he was “not 100% going into the start”. Despite that, he has largely remained out of trouble – even if he did go down in the crash that wiped out his co-leader Geoghegan Hart – and heads into the final week with a real shot of winning his second Grand Tour.
“I would switch to Geraint Thomas [to win], I just have a feeling,” said Chennaoui.
“He’s keeping it right, doing what he should be doing. He’s showing that he’s got the attacking legs. I just wonder about Primoz Roglic staying so safe. Is it actually indicative of something else?”
Thomas is 1’08” behind Armirail, a gap that should prove insignificant when the race heads uphill from Tuesday.
“What we didn’t expect is for him to be virtually leading the race at this point,” added Lloyd.
“He’s not in the pink jersey but Armirail will fall out of it at some point. We kept talking on the way into this Giro that he’s not shown amazing form but that may benefit him for the last week because he’ll peak at the point.
“If he peaks in the last week, he’s going to be very threatening.”


Joao Almeida

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Hang on… wasn’t it a two-horse race? Not necessarily. There is a third rider being talked up ahead of the final week: Joao Almeida (UAE Team Emirates).
The Portuguese youngster sits fourth in the general classification with six stages remaining, 1’30” down on Armirail but only 22” off Thomas.
He has flirted with the podium at the last three Giros, finishing fourth in 2020 and sixth in 2021 before Covid derailed his bid late on in 2022. With Evenepoel and Geoghegan Hart out of the race, he looks primed for another top-three push – and perhaps even more.
It was Almeida who made the biggest move on Sunday’s Stage 15, following up a brief attack from Roglic with a sustained effort on the front. Although he did not force a gap, it created a lively finale that put his rivals under pressure and hinted he was ready to take the fight to Roglic and Thomas.
“Firstly he followed Roglic, but after that he made his own move and that’s a really good sign for us going into the last week of the race,” said Lloyd.
“He’s not just content to follow and end up on the podium for the first time in his career, he wants to win this Giro d’Italia and take seconds wherever he can.”
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20/05/2023 AT 21:46