Slovenian rider Primož Roglič is mounting an attempt at his first overall victory at the Giro d’Italia, arguably cycling’s second most prestigious Grand Tour after the Tour de France. The 33-year-old is one of the two top favourites at the three-week race, his main rival being Belgian rider Remco Evenepoel.
Roglič finished third overall at the 2019 Giro, but then focused on the Tour de France, where he was the runner-up in 2020, and on Spain’s La Vuelta, which he won in 2019, 2020 and 2021.
After crashing out of the Tour in the past two seasons as well from the Vuelta in 2022, his eyes are now set on the Italian crown. The Jumbo-Visma rider’s season so far has included the overall victory at the Tirreno-Adriatico multi-day race, as well as at the Volta a Catalunya, where he successfully fended off attacks by Evenepoel.
The reigning world champion, Evenepoel recently won the Liege-Bastogne-Liege classic for the second time in a row after also winning the UAE Tour.
The 23-year-old Soudal-QuickStep rider, whose style is perfectly suited for this year’s somewhat flatter edition of the Giro, is the bookmakers’ main favourite, but Roglič is right behind, with nobody else even close.
The race starts with an individual time trial between Fossacesia Marina and Ortona on the Adriatic coast on 6 May and will finish in Rome on 28 May.
Hardest on the riders will be the final week, which also features a mountain challenge through the Dolomites in stage 19, as well as the stage 20 mountain time trial on the Italo-Slovenian border on the penultimate day, which is expected to see strong attendance by Slobenian fans.
“The race will show how fit I am. My goal is the overall victory, it’s a challenge for me, but I’m relaxed, as life will go on without a win too. Every day will be important, although it is clear that the race will be decided in the last week,” Roglič said in an online chat with Slovenian journalists.
“We’ll definitely have to start at full throttle, every second will be important for us fighting in the overall standings. But it’s definitely not a priority to win the [opening] time trial and take the pink jersey right away. That’s what I want to win in Rome. But we’ll adapt our tactics from day one and there is no point in talking about it at the moment,” added the Olympic time trial champion.
Roglič’s Jumbo-Visma supporting cast at the race has been weakened significantly by Covid-19 and injuries, but he can still count on the excellent US rider Sepp Kuss.
The fellow Slovenian on the team, Jan Tratnik had to cancel his appearance at the last moment after he crashed into a car during yesterday’s training session and injured his knee. He will be replaced by Briton Thomas Gloag.
As a result, Roglič will be the only Slovenian to compete in the race. Tadej Pogačar, the world’s no. 1 cyclist, is busy healing a broken wrist and preparing for a potential third overall Tour de France victory.