The 23-year-old Belgian will have to outsmart former Grand Tour winners Primoz Roglic of Slovenia, as well as Britain’s Geraint Thomas and Tao Geoghegan Hart, who all have ambitions to wear the pink jersey of to the victor in Rome, on May 28.
At the center of his thoughts is the imposing figure of Roglic, reports AFP.
“Last year I still had some doubts about my ability to be at the same level as him in the mountains,” Evenepoel said before the race: “But those doubts disappeared in the last Tour of Catalunya, where we were tied on the climbs . I hope to do the same thing here and be better than him in the trials. That’s the recipe to beat him, even though he’s the (reigning) Olympic champion in the trials. It’s not going to be easy.”
Roglic, whose best Giro performance was a third place in 2019, believes that, at the age of 33, the time is right for him to claim the title for the first time.
“I’m like a fine wine,” said the former ski jumper, who edged out Evenepoel in a thrilling Catalunya. “The older I get, the better I get.”
Roglic, however, will certainly feel the effects of Covid after the virus eliminated three of his Jumbo-Visma team members.
On Thursday, Jos van Emden was forced to quit just 24 hours after being recruited along with Rohan Dennis to replace Robert Gesink and Tobias Foss. Van Emden was in turn replaced by Sam Oomen, a series of changes that will certainly affect Roglic’s chances.
Trek leader Giulio Ciccone was also forced out by the virus, with the Italian saying missing the Giro was like “swallowing a bitter pill”.
British team Ineos last won the Tour of Italy in 2021 with Egan Bernal.
But the Grenadiers have two hopes in Italy in 2020 winner Hart and Welsh veteran Thomas, winner of the 2018 Tour de France.
Londoner Hart, aged 28, is fit and confident despite the heavy load of setbacks.
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