Sir Bradley Wiggins has tipped Simon Yates of Team BikeExchange to win the Giro d’Italia, but says there are other British candidates for a podium spot too.
Speaking to Eurosport UK, the Tour de France winner and former hour record holder discussed the hopes of Hugh Carthy and James Knox, as well as acknowledging the potential of Remco Evenepoel - Knox's team-mate - who is on the road back to full fitness.
Asked who would win, Wiggins had two words:
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Wiggins cited the surprise victory of Tao Geoghegan Hart in the 2020 Giro as a catalyst for greater self-belief among young riders that they too could take a win in the sport’s most prestigious races.
There’s Hugh [Carthy], plus James [Knox] has been up there in the past, top 10s, 12th at Worlds. This really is a race for those guys now. Hugh was third in the Vuelta last year, Tao’s winning of the Giro last year. It really snowballs and success breeds success. I think, it’s everyone else now, younger riders, younger British riders particularly are seeing the Giro as a possibility they can do something here, whether that’s a top ten, a top five, a stage win. I think after Tao last year, who knows!
“A win as a British rider in a Grand Tour is not out of the question.”
Geoghegan Hart will not ride the Giro this year to defend his 2020 title, something Wiggins described as “a shame” but also “natural”.
“The Tour is higher on his priorities, it’s like ‘you proved yourself but you haven’t really proved yourself [at the Tour].’ It’s a shame he’s not gone back to the Giro, it would have been great to see a British rider go back as the defending champion.
“He’s a Grand Tour winner, the next logical step for him would be to go to the Tour de France. That’s the funny thing about the Giro, you can win the Giro or the Vuelta like Simon Yates did, and you, you’re left with the natural step up to ‘are you going to do the Tour now?’.”
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Wiggins also said he thought British riders might provide some of the race’s biggest surprises.
The biggest surprises are going to come from the British riders, I think. You’ve got James Knox, he’s obviously got Remco Evenepoel coming back from a horrific crash – but I think that definitely James, has an opportunity for a podium spot. It's not out of the question that we could have two British riders on the podium at the end of this race. Certainly one.
Wiggins also explained his personal excitement at seeing the Giro back in its traditional May calendar spot.
“I think last year with Covid-19 and things, we had it at a time of year that we’d never seen before. They could pass the Stelvio without snow which always adds drama to the race, tackling the conditions and the weather is a part of the history of the race.
“With it being back in its usual spot, which I think we’re very fortunate to have, it always adds another level to the Giro. Particularly with rain, passing the high mountains like the Gavia with snow, the Zoncolan. The likes of Pantani and all that have raced on it.”
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