Riders to watch at the Giro U23
Number 1 favourite. Adrien Costa and Bjorg Lambrecht missing the Giro are good news for him, even though he might not be that happy. Dominated Ronde de l’Isard just two weeks ago, will be very interesting to see him on Campo Imperatore; nice time trialist too. Just his second year as U23, yet ready to become pro.
Without Costa he’s surely Axeon’s arrow and probably Sivakov biggest threat. Had a great and successful spring. His growth has been incredible over the past few years; has won last stage of Avenir 2016 and shined in lots races among pros already. Packs a great TT and a nice sprint, can put the hammer down in basically every stage.
One of many Australian rising stars. Like Sivakov and Powless, can be happy about his spring results and Italian Classics Campaign. Gets to the Giro in solid form, will be looking to limit losses in the TT, even if the parcours suits puncheurs and climbers. Fifth in last year’s Avenir. A strong contender for the podium.
Sergio Martinez & Cristian Muñoz
Like many other compatriots, you don’t know much about them until you see them winning here and there. Riding for a very strong Colombia National Team, Martinez and Muñoz were respectively first and second in the Vuelta de la Juventud 2017. Muñoz managed to get second in the Juventud 2016, too. They might not be the new Quintana, and might not even be close to Bernal or Ivan Sosa, but will be interesting to see them racing in Europe and see how they’ll fare with our climbs.
Can be also discussed as GC rider. His preparation for the Giro is out of this world. Managed to get four (!) consecutive 2nd places in U23 classics in Italy, in one month. Races of this category are always hard to read, for many reasons (mainly because of the 6-men-teams), but he’s one of the best candidates to wear the Maglia Rosa tomorrow.
Another big favourite to wear pink tomorrow. After a big 2016, culminated with the European Championship, won ahead of the likes of Lambrecht and Vendrame, his 2017 has been even better. Won Belvedere (in a similar parcours of the first stage of the Giro), first stage of the Eroica U23 and got multiple podiums. Rumoured to join Bahrain-Merida in 2018, has the chance to win more than a stage at the Giro, and will be very eager to wear some jerseys throughout the week.
One of the best U23 prospects, 2017 U23 Flanders (solo) winner, was the strongest on the Ca’ del Poggio just over than a month ago (finished 3rd in San Vendemiano, behind Conci and Hindley); would be very cool to see him win a stage. Starts as one of the favourites for the TT, too.
A beast of a classics rider, very underrated climber, can be a precious help for Sivakov and get himself in the mix for a stage win, too. Fourth in U23 Flanders, seventh in Liege, started his 2017 a bit slower than 2016. Sprints very well in a small group and/or after a hard race. I expect him to be very active at the Giro, in what should be his last year as U23.
There are basically no stages for sprinters. Teams with a strong sprinter will be looking to keep the race together in stage 4. Honorable mention for: Fabio Jakobsen, strongest sprinter in the field, Bram Welten,
Alexandr Kulikovskiy, Filippo Calderaro, Giovanni Lonardi.
Matteo Fabbro & Nicola Conci
Both leaders of their teams (CT Friuli and Zalf), both enjoying a nice start of the season, both recently injured. Similar in many things (but with different characteristics), hopefully both recovered from past crashes and can be a feature in their home race. Fabbro played an important part in Ravasi podium in last year’s Avenir; a pure climber which can deliver a big result on Campo Imperatore (if he’s 100% healthy). Conci was probably the best Italian junior in 2015, struggled a bit last year, but has now found his mojo back, with some good results and a win in San Vendemiano. Seems more of a classics guy, but Zalf is believing a lot on his climbing skills too. Should he have recovered well, he’s probably Italy’s best chance for a stage win.
Another strong and in form Italian. Had some nice results until now, will like the hilly parcours of the Giro and can sprint very well in difficult situations. Has been very strong and solid since his juniors years, expecting him in more than one top-10.
One of the veterans. Last season as an U23. Managed to get a super deserved win in Rome on April 25th, after trying for years. Tons of podiums every season, a big engine that isn’t scared to attack from afar. Sponsor’s favourite. A win in the Giro would be his autograph on a pro contract.
Daniel Savini & Luca Covili
Both born in 1997, both with similar skills, were pretty strong as juniors together with Conci and are having solid results right now. Special mention because this weekend they’ll race in places near their native homes; the parcours of the three stages is not bad for them, lots of friends and relatives will be there cheering for them, enough said.
Hopefully someone finds this enjoyable and helpful. Now go and watch totally different riders win every stage!
© Cover image from Espoirs World – Andrew Peat.