Giro d’Italia: a Guide to the Teams

Featured image courtesy of Luk Benies/Getty Images

With the start list for the 103rd Giro now confirmed, let’s look at the teams and riders to watch, from GC contenders to sprinters, breakaway specialists to time trialists.

AG2R La Mondiale

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François Bidard (Fra), Geoffrey Bouchard (Fra), Tony Gallopin (Fra), Ben Gastauer (Lux), Jaakko Hanninen (Fin), Aurélien Paret-Peintre (Fra), Andrea Vendrame (Ita), Larry Warbasse (US).

A stage-win focused squad, the long-standing French outfit bring a mix of newcomers and veterans, with Jaakko Hänninen and Aurélien Paret-Peintre making their Grand Tour debuts. Former USA national champion Larry Warbasse and Ben Gastauer bring experience, whilst Geoffrey Bouchard will target the Mountains Classification, which he won at last year’s Vuelta a Espana. Andrea Vendrame rode well at the Tour de Wallonie and Milan-Sanremo. He’s probably their best shot at a stage win.

Prediction: a breakaway stage win seems possible.

Androni Giocattoli-Sidermec

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Mattia Bais (Ita), Alessandro Bisolti (Ita), Jefferson Cepeda (Ecu), Luca Chirico (Ita), Simon Pellaud (Swi), Simone Ravanelli (Ita), Jhonatan Restrepo (Col), Josip Rumac (Cro).

Another stage-hunting team, the Italian Pro-Continental outfit will no doubt be active in each day’s breakaway. Their two stand out riders are Jhonatan Restrepo and Josip Rumac. The former took four stages at the Tour de Rwanda, and two at the Vuelta al Tachira. The latter won both the time trial and road race at the Croatian national championships. Replicating such victories at a Grand Tour in this company will be tough however.

Prediction: expect them to animate breakaways, but a victory will be a huge ask.

Astana

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Manuele Boaro (Ita), Rodrigo Contreras (Col), Fabio Felline (Ita), Jakob Fuglsang (Den), Jonas Gregaard (Den), Miguel Ángel López (Col), Óscar Rodríguez (Spa), Aleksandr Vlasov (Rus).

Astana bring a very strong team to support Dane Jakob Fuglsang’s bid for the General Classification (GC). He’s had a good year, winning the Vuelta a Andalucia and Il Lombardia, finishing second at the Tour of Poland, and fifth at the World Championship road race. He has never looked capable of winning a Grand Tour however, performing best in week-long stage races. Elsewhere, Aleksandr Vlasov is a very promising young talent having finished fifth at Tirenno, and third at Il Lombardia. This is his first Grand Tour, and he seems capable of a top-ten. Miguel Angel Lopez returns fresh from finishing sixth in the Tour de France; he’ll provide support in the mountains.

Prediction: multiple stage wins and a top-ten for Vlasov.

Bahrain-McLaren

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Yukiya Arashiro (Jpn), Enrico Battaglin (Ita), Pello Bilbao (Spa), Eros Capecchi (Ita), Domen Novak (Slo), Mark Padun (Ukr), Hermann Pernsteiner (Aut), Jan Tratnik (Slo).

Bahrain bring a squad including three former Giro stage winners, in Enrico Battaglin, Pello Bilbao (pictured), and Eros Capecchi. Harmann Pernsteiner and Mark Padun are Giro debutants. Pernsteiner will be aiming for a decent GC position, having finished 15th at the Vuelta in 2019, whilst Bilbao will hope to repeat his success from last year when he won two stages. Jan Tratnik will be targeting the three time trials.

Prediction: Bilbao provides several options for a stage win or two.

Bardiani-CSF-Faizane

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Giovanni Carboni (Ita), Luca Covili (Ita), Filippo Fiorelli (Ita), Giovanni Lonardi (Ita), Fabio Mazzucco (Ita), Francesco Romano (Ita), Alessandro Tonelli (Ita), Filippo Zana (Ita).

A popular Italian Pro-Continental team, Bardiani return with a young team to animate breakaways and seek an elusive stage win. They’ve had success in the past, winning multiple stages between 2012 and 2016. This year, they bring Giovanni Carboni (pictured), who led the Young Rider Classification for a time last year and recorded two top-fives in stages. Giovanni Lonardi recorded the team’s only victory so far this year at the Tour of Antalya, and recorded two top-tens in the sprints last year.

Prediction: They’ll no doubt always be prominent in breakaways, but they’ll have to be very lucky to win.

Bora Hansgrohe

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Cesare Benedetti (Ita), Maciej Bodnar (Pol), Matteo Fabbro (Ita), Patrick Gamper (Aut), Patrick Konrad (Aut), Rafal Majka (Pol), Pawel Poljanski (Pol), Peter Sagan (Svk).

Peter Sagan (pictured) finally makes his Giro debut, after a disappointing Tour de France that saw him unable to take the green jersey for the first time (barring 2017). With a mountainous parcours, and a comparatively weaker sprint field than at the Tour, he is in a good place to notch up a stage victory or two, as well as the Points Classification. That is, if he can rediscover top form. He is without a win since the 2019 Tour. Elsewhere, Rafal Majka is always there or thereabouts, but has always struggled to achieve much better than a top-ten in a Grand Tour. Maciej Bodnar should do well in the time trials.

Prediction: The Points Classification and a stage for Sagan.

CCC Team (Pol)

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Josef Cerny (Cze), Víctor de la Parte (Spa), Kamil Gradek (Pol), Pavel Kochetkov (Rus), Kamil Malecki (Pol), Joey Rosskopf (US), Attila Valter (Hun), Ilnur Zakarin (Rus).

CCC desperately need something to cheer about this year, after a torrid season where their only real success has been in the Tour de Hongrie. The winner of which (Attila Valter) will make his Grand Tour debut here. Ilnur Zakarin (pictured) was their best hopes of a stage win at the Tour, but his poor descending skills let him down. He won’t have good memories of the Giro either; crashing out horrifically on stage 19 in 2016. He did take a stage win in both 2015 and 2019 however. He’ll hope to repeat this feat this year.

Prediction: a stage win for Zakarin is doable, but they’ll need to race aggressively.

Cofidis Solutions Crédits

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Simone Consonni (Ita), Nicolas Edet (Fra), Nathan Haas (Aus), Jesper Hansen (Den), Mathias Le Turnier (Fra), Stéphane Rossetto (Fra), Kenneth Vanbilsen (Bel), Elia Viviani (Ita).

The Tour de France stalwarts finally return to the Giro after a ten year absence. They’ll be hoping to feature in the sprint stages; Elia Viviani (pictured) will want to redeem himself after an anonymous Tour and a 2020 season without a single victory. He has a great chance to take what would be a sixth Giro stage victory here, and will be motivated to perform on home soil. Otherwise, Nicolas Edet will be active in mountain breakaways, but he’s had a very slow return to form since racing has resumed.

Prediction: Viviani is in a good place to rescue a torrid season.

Deceuninck-Quick Step

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Joao Almeida (Por), Davide Ballerini (Ita), Alvaro Hodeg (Col), Mikkel Frolich Honoré (Den), Iljo Keisse (Bel), James Knox (GB), Fausto Masnada (Ita), Pieter Serry (Bel).

Stage wins are the goal for the ever-successful Belgian squad, although they do possess two top-ten contenders overall in James Knox and Fausto Masnada, the latter making a mid-season transfer from CCC. He recently finished sixth at Tirenno Adriatico, and won stage six of the Giro last year. Davide Ballerini provides an option for the sprints, winning the final stage of the Tour of Poland. Their strongest fast man however is Alvaro Hodeg; he won seven races last year, although is without a victory this year.

Prediction: they lack the strength seen in most of their other Grand Tour squads, but Hodeg should be capable of a stage win.

EF Pro Cycling

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Sean Bennett (US), Jonathan Caicedo (Ecu), Simon Clarke (Aus), Lawson Craddock (US), Ruben Guerreiro (Por), Tanel Kangert (Est), Lachlan Morton (Aus), James Whelan (Aus).

Having sent their main GC riders to the Tour, EF bring a young team of opportunists to seek out stage wins. Simon Clarke (pictured) has seen success here before; holding the pink jersey for a day in 2015 having won the team time trial. The Australian hasn’t raced too much this year, but won the Royal Bernard Drome Classic in March. Tanel Kangert is a solid climber on his day, as is Ecuadorian champion Jonathan Caicedo, who was third at Tour Columbia 2.1 in February.

Prediction: I can’t see the EF riders being able to challenge for a stage victory; most of their riders will ride to gain experience.

Groupama-FDJ

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Arnaud Démare (Fra), Kilian Frankiny (Swi), Jacopo Guarnieri (Ita), Simon Guglielmi (Fra), Ignatas Konovalovas (Ltu), Miles Scotson (Aus), Ramon Sinkeldam (Hol), Benjamin Thomas (Fra).

The French squad will be hoping for better fortune in Italy than their homeland, where once again Pinot cracked at the Tour. Thankfully for them, they bring sprinter Arnaud Démare (pictured), who has been on fire since racing restarted. He’s notched up ten wins already, including the French national championships and Milano-Torino. Benjamin Thomas will be hoping to feature against the clock.

Prediction: On paper, Démare is the strongest sprinter on the start list. Anything less than at least one stage win will be a disappointment.

Ineos Grenadiers

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Jonathan Castroviejo (Spa), Rohan Dennis (Aus), Filippo Ganna (Ita), Tao Geoghegan Hart (GB), Jhonatan Narváez (Col), Salvatore Puccio (Ita), Ben Swift (Team Sky), Geraint Thomas (GB).

Ineos bring a genuine contender for the pink jersey in Geraint Thomas (pictured), who is back with a vengeance having missed out on riding the Tour. His form has improved drastically since, finishing a close second to compatriot Simon Yates at Tirreno. He can count on his excellent time trialling ability to put time into the pure climbers. Although not as strong as the Tour squad, Ineos bring strong mountain support in Jonathan Castroviejo and Tao Geoghegan Hart. With newly-crowned time trial World Champion Filippo Ganna, as well as 2018 and 2019 champion Rohan Dennis on the team, they are also well-placed to win all three time trial stages.

Prediction: Thomas has a real chance of winning the race; all he needs to do is mark Yates in the mountains and then put substantial time into him in the time trials.

Israel Start-up Nation

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Rudy Barbier (Fra), Matthias Brändle (Aut), Alexander Cataford (Can), Davide Cimolai (Ita), Alex Dowsett (GB), Daniel Navarro (Spa), Guy Sagiv (Isr), Rick Zabel (Ger).

This is the third Giro for the Israeli team, who enjoyed three stages in their native country to start the 2018 edition. Davide Cimolai and Rudy Barbier will hope to challenge in the sprints, Barbier having recorded several top-ten results this year, and two wins in San Juan and Slovakia. Cimolai has always been knocking on the door of a Giro stage win, but hasn’t managed it yet. Time trial specialist Alex Dowsett (pictured) won a stage in 2013, but beating the likes of Ganna and Dennis will be hard.

Prediction: Their riders are more outsiders than solid favourites for stage wins, but don’t write off Dowsett or Cimolai.

Jumbo-Visma

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Koen Bouwman (Hol), Tobias Foss (Nor), Chris Harper (Aus), Steven Kruijswijk (Hol), Tony Martin (Ger), Christoph Pfingsten (Ger), Antwan Tolhoek (Hol), Jos van Emden (Hol).

Steven Kruijswijk (pictured) returns to the Giro for the first time since 2017, and many will remember the 2016 edition when he tragically crashed on stage 19 whilst holding a commanding GC lead, handing it to Vincenzo Nibali. He was meant to ride the Tour before a crash at the Critérium du Dauphiné ruled him out. His form is an unknown, having not raced since then. His only other race was the Tour de l’Ain, where he finished fourth. His team lack the climbing talent of the Tour squad; it’s unlikely we’ll see them patrolling the peloton from the front here.

Prediction: hard to call as Kruijswijk has not raced for six weeks, but if he can rediscover his form that landed him on the podium at the Tour last year, he can hope for similar results here.

Lotto-Soudal

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Sander Armee (Bel), Thomas De Gendt (Bel), Jon Dibben (GB), Carl Fredrik Hagen (Nor), Adam Hansen (Aus), Matthew Holmes (GB), Stefano Oldani (Ita), Harm Vanhoucke (Bel).

Stage wins will once again be the goal for the Belgian team, although don’t discount Norwegian Carl Frederick Hagen for the GC. He took a surprise eight place overall at the Vuelta last year. He hasn’t demonstrated the form necessary to repeat such a feat in 2020 though. Thomas de Gendt (pictured) will hope to make amends from a quiet Tour, where he couldn’t replicate 2019’s stage victory. Keep an eye on Briton Matt Holmes as well; he beat Richie Porte to win the Willunga Hill stage at the Tour Down Under in January.

Prediction; Thomas de Gendt should be able to pick up a stage win, and could challenge for the Mountains Classification. The Giro parcours are suited to his riding style.

Mitchelton-Scott

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Edoardo Affini (Ita), Brent Bookwalter (US), Jack Haig (Aus), Lucas Hamilton (Aus), Michael Hepburn (Aus), Damien Howson (Aus), Cameron Meyer (Aus), Simon Yates (GB).

Briton Simon Yates returns to try and take the pink jersey he was so agonisingly close to winning in 2018, collapsing in spectacular fashion on stage 19. He rode last year’s edition as well, but could only manage eight. Having finished third in Poland and won Tirreno, Yates has had the perfect build-up, and counts on a strong team of climbers including Damien Howson and Jack Haig, the latter finishing tenth at Tirreno. Yates will need his climbing ability from the 2018 edition if he wants to challenge Thomas for the overall victory, as he will undoubtedly lose time in the time trials.

Prediction: It will be a very close battle between Thomas and Yates; I think the time trialling could be Yates’s downfall.

Movistar

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Héctor Carretero (Spa), Dario Cataldo (Spa), Antonio Pedrero (Spa), Einer Rubio (Col), Sergio Samitier (Spa), Eduardo Sepúlveda (Arg), Albert Torres (Spa), Davide Villella (Ita).

Still, Movistar are with just one victory in 2020, and it seems unlikely that they can better that at the Giro. They certainly won’t be challenging for the pink jersey that they won with Richard Carapaz last year, who has since moved to Ineos. With their best riders having ridden the Tour, they’ve been left to pick up the pieces and bring a fairly average team. Dario Cataldo (pictured) is their best shot at a victory; winning stage 15 last year. Héctor Carretero won the Mountains jersey at Tirreno, and will be aiming to repeat that at the Giro.

Prediction: It’s hard to see anyone other than Cataldo challenging for a stage win.

NTT Pro Cycling

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Victor Campenaerts (Bel), Amanuel Gebreigzabhier (Eri), Louis Meintjes (SA), Ben O’Connor (Aus), Domenico Pozzovivo (Ita), Matteo Sobrero (Ita), Dylan Sunderland (Aus), Danilo Wyss (Swi).

On paper, this is a fairly decent team. But then, NTT’s Grand Tour teams often are; they just struggle to get results. They’re without a GT stage win since the 2018 Vuelta. They have some credible options this year though. Victor Campenaerts (pictured) is always there or thereabouts in the time trials, finishing second at the final Tirreno one, and most recently eighth at the World Championships. Louis Meintjes used to promise a lot in GTs, but hasn’t finished in the top ten in one since the 2017 Tour. Ben O’Connor won a stage of the Etoile de Bessèges in February, and could feature in mountain breakaways.

Prediction: I just can’t see any NTT riders being able to beat other established climbers or breakaway specialists.

Sunweb

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Nico Denz (Ger), Chad Haga (US), Chris Hamilton (Aus), Jai Hindley (Aus), Wilco Kelderman (Hol), Michael Matthews (Aus), Sam Oomen (Hol), Martijn Tusveld (Hol).

After a fantastic Tour, Sunweb will hope to carry their momentum into Italy. In Michael Matthews (pictured) they have a genuine contender for the Points Classification, as well as the tougher sprint stages; he won Bretagne Classic – Ouest-France, and was seventh at the World Championship road race. He will be extra motivated after the disappointment of missing out on selection for the Tour. Wilco Kelderman is a solid time trialist and likes the longer climbs. His consistency could be enough for a top five. Chad Haga will be hoping for good results in the time trials, having won stage 21 against the clock last year.

Prediction: it should be an interesting fight for the purple jersey between Matthews and Sagan; Kelderman can achieve a top-five GC position.

Trek-Segafredo

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Julien Bernard (Fra), Gianluca Brambilla (Ita), Giulio Ciccone (Ita), Nicola Conci (Ita), Jacopo Mosca (Ita), Antonio Nibali (Ita), Vincenzo Nibali (Ita), Pieter Weening (Hol).

This is one of the strongest GT teams that Trek have yet fielded. They’re all in to support a bid for a third Maglia Rosa for Vincenzo Nibali (pictured). He’s been fairly quiet since racing resumed; he was anonymous at Tirenno, but he often has a quiet build up to a Grand Tour. Three time trials will be a concern, but even if his GC bid fails he can always be relied upon to animate the race when we least expect it. The same goes for Guilio Ciccone. He hasn’t raced a stage race this summer, but did take fifth at Il Lombardia. He’ll be hoping to repeat his stage win, and possibly his mountains jersey victory, from last year.

Prediction: Nibali’s GT winning days are gone, but third place seems likely.

UAE Team Emirates

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Mikkel Bjerg (Den), Valerio Conti (Ita), Joe Dombrowski (US), Fernando Gaviria (Col), Brandon McNulty (US), Juan Sebastián Molano (Col), Maximiliano Richeze (Arg), Diego Ulissi (Ita).

They won’t be able to repeat their Tour-winning exploits here, but UAE bring a varied mix of riders capable of winning stages on all terrains. Fernando Gaviria (pictured) will pair up with trusted lead-out man Max Richeze for the sprints; he took a stage last year and recently won the Giro della Toscana, so the form is there. Diego Ulissi always performs well here, having won six stages, whilst Valerio Conti spent six days in pink last year. Young Brandon McNulty will be one to watch as well; he was seventh in Andalucia and fourth overall in San Juan earlier this year.

Prediction: the likes of Gaviria and Ulissi should make this a succsseful, several stage-winning Giro squad.

Vini Zabu-KTM

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Lorenzo Fortunato (Ita), Marco Frapporti (Ita), Lorenzo Rota (Ita), Matteo Spreafico (Ita), Etienne van Empel (Hol), Giovanni Visconti (Ita), Luca Wackermann (Ita), Edoardo Zardini (Ita).

The third and final Pro-Continental team on the start list, Vini Zabu bring a mix of young riders and veterans. Giovanni Visconti (pictured) headlines, although he has shown little in terms of good form this year, barring the odd top-ten. Tour de Limousin winner Luca Wackermann starts, and will hope to feature in the sprints.

Prediction: It will be a struggle for this team to get results; they’ll be active in breakaways but little more.

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