The peloton on stage 15 of the 2021 Giro d'Italia.

Preview: Who’s going to win the 2022 Giro d’Italia?

Carapaz and Yates are among the GC favorites at the Giro, while Van der Poel, Cavendish, and Ewan headline the strong list of stage hunters.

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Although it feels like the season only just began, somehow, the Giro d’Italia is upon us once again. Riders will roll out from Budapest on Friday to embark on a three-week journey that will end in Verona with a time trial on May 29.

Matt de Neef has given the route – which should favor the climbers – a thorough rundown that is well worth the read. As for me, I’m taking a closer look at the start list, which features plenty of big names.

Egan Bernal will not be in attendance to defend his title, but his teammate Richard Carapaz, who won the race in 2019, will. So too will Grand Tour winners Simon Yates and Tom Dumoulin. Other GC hopefuls include the likes of João Almeida, Mikel Landa, and Miguel Ángel López. The list of riders who will be at the race to hunt stage victories is also an impressive one, with headliners like Mark Cavendish, Caleb Ewan, and Mathieu van der Poel.

Here’s what you need to know about the contenders for the 2022 Giro d’Italia …

Three GC favorites

2019 Giro champion Richard Carapaz (Ineos Grenadiers), 2018 Vuelta a España champion Simon Yates (BikeExchange-Jayco), and rising star João Almeida (UAE Team Emirates) are the three riders with shortest odds heading into the Giro, so they are a good place to start any preview of the contenders.

Richard Carapaz (Ineos Grenadiers) wins stage 6 of the Volta a Catalunya after 132 km off the front with Sergio Higuita (Bora-Hansgrohe).

Carapaz, the Olympic champion, has obviously won this race before, and since then, he’s gone on to finish second at the Vuelta a España and third at the Tour de France. None of the riders that finished ahead of him in those two endeavors is participating at the Giro d’Italia, so it stands to reason that Carapaz will shine brightest of anyone on the start list. It helps that he is a great and consistent climber and a solid if unspectacular time trialist, and he showed great form with a stage win and second place overall at the Volta a Catalunya.

Having Richie Porte around won’t hurt the chances of Ineos Grenadiers one bit. The former Tour podium finisher can be a great card to play either as a second option or a supporting cast member. In Pavel Sivakov, Ineos has yet another Grand Tour top 10 finisher to rely on.

Simon Yates wins stage 19 of the Giro d’Italia.

Yates, for his part, has had a complex relationship with the Giro over the years. He looked unstoppable en route to three stage wins in 2018, only to eventually drop out of GC contention entirely. Later that year, however, he proved that he can indeed handle three weeks battling for a Grand Tour win with a victory at the Vuelta, and since then, he’s finished third at the Giro.

Yates has looked good on more than one occasion so far in 2022, taking a stage and runner-up honors at Paris-Nice, and two stage wins at the Vuelta Asturias bookending an off-day that saw him drop out of the GC battle. Much like Carapaz, he’s a great climber with a respectable TT. Head-to-head, they should be pretty closely matched if they’re both at their best. That said, Yates won’t have quite the same amount of firepower supporting him. BikeExchange brings a perfectly capable squad to the race, but it’s not one that’s likely to put Carapaz under much pressure. It’s close, but the Ecuadorian looks to be the favorite of the two heading into the Giro.

Just the same, both riders have the skillsets, the recent proof of form, and the experience to thrive on this course, making them The Two Gentlemen likeliest to win in Verona in this writer’s opinion – while Almeida is an interesting third favorite who is young enough that it’s hard to know just what to expect from him over the next three weeks.

He will make the start hoping that the third time will be the charm after he finished fourth and sixth, respectively, in his last two Giro starts. His odds with the bookies are really quite close to those that Yates is getting, although Almeida doesn’t quite have the results to match the Brit’s to this point in his career. He is a time trial ace, but that won’t help him as much at this climber-friendly Giro as it might in other races. Then again, he was climbing quite well against some big names at the Volta a Catalunya. This could be his best chance yet to win a Grand Tour.

Three challengers

As he has done at so many Grand Tours so far in his career, Mikel Landa will line up for this Giro inspiring plenty of speculation as to whether he can finally string together three weeks of climbing brilliance to take a win. Truth be told, this Giro is as good a course for him as he’s ever raced, and I actually don’t mind his chances in the GC. At his best, he’s one of the strongest climbers in the peloton; the question is, of course, whether he can be at his best across the entire race. Landa’s teammate Pello Bilbao will be a fine second option for Bahrain-Victorious, who of course enjoyed a second-place overall finish from their second option Damiano Caruso last year.

Miguel Ángel López is another climbing ace whose tendency to struggle in the time trials will be mitigated on this percorso. Much like Landa, he has proven capable of climbing with the best in the world on his best days, but sometimes struggles to stay consistent throughout a Grand Tour. Back in the familiar environment of Astana-Qazaqstan, he could find some success in this Giro. Former Giro winner Vincenzo Nibali will be a valuable ally for López, or potentially a second card to play for his team.

Tom Dumoulin on his way up the Eyserbosweg at the Amstel Gold Race.

Tom Dumoulin is one of the most interesting riders on the start list considering his obvious talent and track record. He won the Giro in 2017 and finished second in 2018; clearly, when he’s in good shape, he is a contender. That said, he has not shown much in the way of results on the climbs this season, and this Giro is not particularly well-suited to his world-beating TT ability. He’s not one to ignore, by any means, but it will be a pretty big surprise to see him back to Grand Tour-winning ways on this particular parcours. Tobias Foss is a respectable alternative for Jumbo-Visma.

The best of the rest in the battle for pink

The GC battle looks like a pretty open one this year, which means that the list of contenders worthy of “best of the rest” status is quite a long one. On the one hand, that means more uncertainty and more work for prognosticators like yours truly. On the other hand, that means it should be a more entertaining race!

Wilco Kelderman, Jai Hindley, and Emanuel Buchmann headline a powerhouse Bora-Hansgrohe lineup. While none of the three stands out as a top-tier favorite on his own, together they have quite a bit of firepower. Kelderman has finished as highly as third at the Giro, and on a more TT-heavy route, he’d be a bigger favorite. As it stands, he’s still a contender. Hindley, despite his runner-up ride at the Giro two years ago, remains something of a question mark. He was certainly on form in 2020, but can he get back to that level again? As for Buchmann, he’s another question mark; he was fourth at the 2019 Tour but has not done all that much since.

Romain Bardet celebrates his overall win at the Tour of the Alps.

Romain Bardet leads the way for DSM fresh off an overall win at the Tour of the Alps, and this parcours is about as good as you could draw up for the French climber. It’s been a while since we saw him really contending for a Grand Tour win but this seems like as good an opportunity as any.

Alejandro Valverde and Iván Sosa headline the Movistar squad, and given Valverde’s respectable showings so far this year and his track record, and Sosa’s as-yet untapped potential, the team has reason to be optimistic about pulling off a solid result.

Giulio Ciccone and Bauke Mollema of Trek-Segafredo, Hugh Carthy of EF Education-EasyPost, and Guillaume Martin of Cofidis are all also worth watching in the overall battle at the Giro.

The stage hunters

The field of stage hunters at this Giro is an impressive one, with Mark Cavendish (Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl), Mathieu van der Poel (Alpecin-Fenix), and Caleb Ewan (Lotto Soudal) among the many big names leading the way.

Mark Cavendish wins Milano-Torino after a perfect leadout from Michael Morkov. Photo: Getty Images

Cavendish and Ewan headline the list of sprinters. Cavendish has shown some fine form thus far in 2022, winning stages at the Tour of Oman and the UAE Tour and taking a one-day victory at Milano-Torino. For all his Tour de France brilliance, he has also enjoyed quite a decorated career at the Giro with 15 stage on his palmares, so expect him to come out swinging in the sprint stages, with the added bonus of Michael Mørkøv‘s inimitable lead-out prowess.

Ewan, who took his fourth and fifth career Giro stage wins at last year’s race, has also put up strong results so far this year with wins at the Saudi Tour, the Tour des Alpes Maritimes et du Var, Tirreno-Adriatico, and the Tour of Turkey. He and Cavendish should be pretty evenly matched at this year’s Giro, with Cavendish perhaps having a slight edge on the purer bunch kicks and Ewan enjoying an advantage on the lumpier days.

Giacomo Nizzolo (Israel-Premier Tech) is a two-time Giro points champ, and while he is yet to win this year, he is always dangerous on home roads. Fernando Gaviria (UAE Team Emirates) has done well for himself at the Giro before. Arnaud Démare (Groupama-FDJ), Phil Bauhaus (Bahrain Victorious), Cees Bol (DSM), and Biniam Girmay (Intermarché-Wanty Gobert) are the other top names to watch in the bunch kicks.

Mathieu van der Poel at the Tour of Flanders.

Van der Poel is obviously a candidate for those stages as well, although he will also be in the mix on the hillier days. The opening stage of the race suits him quite well. With its punchy finale, it will suit someone with a bit of versatility, so don’t be surprised to see Van der Poel (or Ewan or Girmay) in pink after a day of racing in Budapest.

Other riders to keep an eye on are Diego Ulissi (UAE Team Emirates), Magnus Cort (EF Education-EasyPost), Alberto Dainese (DSM), Alessandro Covi (UAE Team Emirates), Attila Valter (Groupama-FDJ), and Joe Dombrowski (UAE Team Emirates), who could all factor for stage wins depending on the profile.

The aforementioned stars and plenty of other recognizable faces will get to racing soon. The 2022 Giro d’Italia rolls out from Budapest on Friday.

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