GIRO’22 BREAKDOWN: Contender Takeaways!

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Pre-Giro d’Italia Takeaways: With less than 24 hours to go to the fist stage finish of the 2022 Giro d’Italia, Spencer Martin gives us ‘Choice of Contenders’ and how they might color the race action. Get into pink here…

– This article is an excerpt from the Beyond the Peloton newsletter. Sign up here for full access. –

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Giro chaos

With the start of the first, and in my opinion, most exciting (aka chaotic) Grand Tour of the year, the Giro d’Italia, coming up this Friday, I wanted to take a moment to lay out a few things on my mind regarding the course, the contenders, and what will ultimately decide the outcome of this stunningly beautiful race.

Giro d’Italia 2022 | Opening Ceremony & Teams’ Presentation

Pre-Giro Thoughts:
1) This course offers the fewest individual time trial kilometers in recent history

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  • Individual Time Trial Kilometers Per Giro Edition 2010-2022
  • breakdown giro22

2) However, this doesn’t mean a ‘pure’ climber will win the race

  • If we look at the past winner list and the TT Course Rating (I created this by dividing the total number of TT kms by 100), there isn’t a great correlation between TT kms and the type of winner.
  • For example, Vincenzo Nibali, a horrible time trialist, won on a course with the highest TT rating in recent memory (2013), while Chris Froome a ‘time trialist’, won in 2018, which was a course with a relatively low rating.
  • Of course, Froome won that race with his climbing, not his time trialing, but it goes to show that riders like Tom Dumoulin, who we think of as time trialists, can out-climb the more typically built ‘climbers’ on a low-TT course when they are confident and fit.
  • Past Winner List, Specialty & Course TT Rating:
    2010: Ivan Basso, pure climber, 3.6
    2011: Alberto Contador, climber, 3.8
    2012: Ryder Hesjedal, hybrid climber, 3.7
    2013: Vincenzo Nibali, pure climber, 7.6
    2014: Nairo Quintana, pure climber, 6.9
    2015: Alberto Contador, climber, 6.0
    2016: Vincenzo Nibali, pure climber, 6.1
    2017: Tom Dumoulin, time trialist, 6.9
    2018: Chris Froome, time trialist, 4.4
    2019: Richard Carapaz, pure climber, 6.0
    2020: Tao Geoghegan Hart, climber, 6.5
    2021: Egan Bernal, climber, 3.9

The 2022 Giro d’Italia route

3) As it almost always is, the Giro will be won in the mountainous third week

  • To show little TT kilometers and performance can matter at the Giro, take a look at some recent examples of riders losing heaps of time against the clock and pulling it back in the mountains.
  • In 2019, Richard Carapaz took about 6 minutes on Roglic in non-ITT stages (lost 3’28 in ITT, won the race by 2’30).
  • In 2020, Tao Geoghegan Hart lost 2’52 in the TTs to Joao Almeida, but won the overall by 2’57)
  • For reference, those were in editions of the Giro with around 60km of ITTs each, and this year’s version only has 26.6km
  • This is because, unlike the Tour de France, the racing is extremely difficult to control and the time gained/lost in the mountainous (and often raced in poor weather conditions) decides the race
  • Overall time position of past four Giro winners heading into the final week
  • 2021: Bernal leading the race by 1’33 on stage 14
  • 2020: TGH down by 3’44 on stage 14 (Joao Almedia leading)
  • 2019: Carapaz leading by 9-seconds on stage 14
  • 2018: Froome down by 3’10 on stage 14 (Simon Yates leading)

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Giro’22 map

Overall Contenders:
Richard Carapaz: The huge favorite for the overall win. Won here in 2019 and is a proven race winner, unlike nearly every other GC contender.

  • Downsides: looked horrible at the start of the year (worse than in 2019 when he was competitive on summit finishes).
  • He looked better at Catalunya when he raided the penultimate stage, but the big question is if he has the fitness base to avoid any major bad days.

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Top favorite Giro’19 winner – Richard Carapaz

Simon Yates won two stages at Asturias but cracked on stage 2. Not a great sign this close to a GC objective, especially since his issue in the past has been inconsistency and his ability to manage bad days.

  • Falling fast in the betting markets. Was as high as +450 on Monday, and is now down to +700 in some books and behind Almeida.

Giro d’Italia 2022 | Maglia Bianca contenders

João Almeida has seemed to transition to UAE well, with very similar results to his pre-Giro buildup at QS in 2021.

  • One thing that should concern us is the team meltdown at Catalunya. Shows inexperience in the team car.
  • Is now working with Pogacar’s trainer, Dr. Iñigo San-Millán, who is extremely smart and has obviously had success training a rider to win GTs in recent years.

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If on form – Mikel Landa

Solid Podium Chances:
Mikel Landa: Has been 4th in the recent stacked Tour de France (2020), if he can avoid crashes, has the talent and climbing skills to finish on the podium.

  • However, at the risk of sounding reductive, he just seems to lack what it takes to win major GC competitions (his last WT-level win of any kind was in 2018 and he has no WT-level stage race wins in his entire career).

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A maybe man – Guillaume Martin

Long Shot Podium/Top Ten:
Guillaume Martin: Potential wildcard podium finisher. Finished top ten at both Tour and Vuelta in 2021. Admittedly he does not have a great track record of podium success at GTs, but will likely end up in the top ten, especially with few TT kms and lots of mountain stages.

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Norwegian champion Tobias Foss – Possible

Tobias Foss: He was 9th overall here in 2021 and at just 24-years-old, is still progressing.

  • And in limited appearances so far this season, he appears to have improved.
  • Watch for him to better his 2nd place in last year’s opening TT on stage 2.

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Romain Bardet – Top ten?

Romain Bardet: In 11 career GT starts, has finished in the top ten 6 times (no wins).

  • The bull case for Bardet is that at the Tour of the Alps, he showed he is currently very fit.
  • The bear case is that he is not a very frequent winner and only has two GC wins in his entire career.

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López in the Tour of the Alps

Question Marks:
Miguel Ángel López: He will likely win a mountain stage, but he hasn’t podiumed at a grand tour since 2018 and has suffered a massive GC dropoff across the board since then.

  • A major red flag for me is that he failed to compete for the overall at the recent Tour of the Alps, which was perfect for him on paper.

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Tom Dumoulin – Who knows?

Tom Dumoulin: While he has looked extremely skinny and powerful since his return to racing (which has resulted in grand TT performances). He hasn’t been able to put together a decent climbing performance since coming back from his mid-season break in 2021.

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Wilco Kelderman – ‘No signs of form’

Wilco Kelderman: He finished third here in 2020, but he has no signs of form so far in 2022.

  • Even if he rides into fitness at the race, the initial summit finishes could see him lose so much time that he can’t rejoin the GC fight.

Emanuel Buchmann
Emanuel Buchmann – Invisible so far in 2022

Emanuel Buchmann: Same as above.

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The Shark is ready – But for what?

Vincenzo Nibali: The Shark of Messina is one of my favorite riders, but his grand tour GC days are behind him (his last GT victory was the 2016 Giro).

  • However, after a tough start to the season, he showed decent form at the Ardennes and I would be shocked if the extremely proud rider didn’t come away with a stage win (this could hurt Lopez’s GC chances since Nibali will have no interest in working for him).

Giro d’Italia 2022 | Maglia Ciclamino contenders

Sprinters/Points Jersey Contenders:
Mark Cavendish should be the favorite for the flat finishes. Stage 1 might be too tough for him, but stages 3, 6, 11 & 18 should serve up a perfect opportunity for him and his well-drilled QS lead-out.

  • But, how long will he stay at this race? If he rattles off two early wins, it is possible his QS team gives him the Tour de France start nod and pulls him out to save his legs through the difficult third week.

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The season has started well for ‘Cav’

Caleb Ewan hasn’t matched the heights of his 2019 season, but still wins stages in nearly every grand tour he starts (2 wins in 8 stages in 2021). Will win a stage here, but almost certainly won’t finish the race.

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Stage win for Caleb Ewan? Probably

Arnaud Démare is fit (10th at MSR and GW), but appears to have lost the ability to win races (no wins so far in 2022 and the last WorldTour-level win was 2020) and no GT stage wins since 2020 (when he won 4 stages and the points jersey at the Giro).

  • I would be shocked if he doesn’t win the points jersey again here, but will likely struggle for position in the sprints and might not get a stage win.

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Stage wins and the Maglia Ciclamino for Arnaud Démare?

Fernando Gaviria got 2nd to Sam Bennett at Eschborn Frankfurt, coming back slowly after breaking his collarbone at Omloop

  • On paper this is good, but remember, Bennett hasn’t been himself a sprinting force since 2020, so it is tough to judge this result.
  • Hasn’t won a GT sprint stage since the 2019 Giro.

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Never discount Fernando Gaviria

Giacomo Nizzolo won the points race at the Giro in 2015/2016 and got his first stage win in 2021.

  • Also, as an Italian, he will prioritize this race and will likely finish it if he can.
  • Unfortunately, he hasn’t looked great in 2022 (he finished 18th and Eschborn-Frankfurt).

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Does Giacomo Nizzolo have Giro form?

Phil Bauhaus the 27-year-old is a complete wildcard. Doesn’t win often, but won a stage at Tirreno–Adriatico earlier this year and is always lurking around in sprints.

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Van der Poel want’s to finish the Giro – Early pink jersey first?

It obviously goes without saying that Mathieu van der Poel and Biniam Girmay will be stage win contenders in the more difficult fast-finishing days, but, I wouldn’t count on either to contest the truly flat bunch finishes or to finish the race since I’d imagine both will be featured player in the smaller teams Tour de France lineups.

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Biniam Girmay – Punching above his weight or race revelation?

# Keep it PEZ for daily stage ‘Race Reports’ & ‘Rest Day Rants’ and more news in EUROTRASH Monday and Thursday. See the ‘PEZ Giro’22 Preview’ HERE. #

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Giro d’Italia 2022 stages:
Stage 1: Budapest – Visegrád 195km flat
Stage 2: Budapest – Budapest 9.2km ITT
Stage 3: Kaposvár – Balatonfüred 201km flat
Rest day
Stage 4: Avola – Etna 170Km mountain
Stage 5: Catania – Messina 174km flat
Stage 6: Palmi – Scalea 192Km flat
Stage 7: Diamante – Potenza 196Km hilly
Stage 8: Naples – Naples 153km hilly
Stage 9: Isernia – Blockhaus 189km mountains
Rest day
Stage 10: Pescara – Jesi 196km hilly
Stage 11: Santarcangelo di Romagna – Reggio Emilia 203km flat
Stage 12: Parma – Genoa 202km hilly
Stage 13: San Remo – Cuneo 150km flat
Stage 14: Santena – Turin 147km hilly
Stage 15: Rivarolo Canavese – Cogne 178km mountains
Rest day
Stage 16: Salò – Aprica 202km mountains
Stage 17: SPonte di Legno – Lavarone 168km mountains
Stage 18: Borgo Valsugana – Treviso 151km flat
Stage 19: Marano Lagunare – Castelmonte 177km hilly
Stage 20: Belluno – Passo Fedaia/Marmolada 167km mountains
Stage 21: Verona – Verona 17.4km ITT.


# Spencer Martin is the author of the cycling-analysis newsletter Beyond the Peloton that breaks down the nuances of each race and answers big picture questions surrounding team and rider performance. Sign up now to get full access to all the available content and race breakdowns. #

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