The Tour of the Alps is not over yet, but already has presented plenty of food for thought ahead of the Giro.
Based on the performances we’ve seen this week, plus the other results and goings on in the last month or so, we are beginning to see a picture of what Il Giro 2021 could be.
Some riders are clearly in the ascendancy, some have had terrible setbacks – and some prospects are simply a bit ‘iffy’.
Yates has 'unfinished business here' - Wiggins
- Ignore the bookies, Simon Yates is now the Giro d'Italia favourite
- Nibali unlikely to start Il Giro, but was this his final chance to win a third maglia rosa?
- Giro d’Italia: How to watch opening Grand Tour of 2021
The Burmunian is in exhilarating form, simply dancing away from the likes of Pavel Sivakov (Ineos Grenadiers) and Dan Martin (Israel StartUp Nation) on the second stage of Tour of the Alps. It was a display redolent of his barnstorming opening fortnight in the Giro in 2018.
If there is one concern for Yates it is how long he can hold his peak – if indeed he is already at it. That Giro ended in a spectacular implosion for Yates, something he will be desperate not to repeat.
'Superb' - Yates cruises to impressive Stage 2 win in the Alps
Another product of Lancashire, another rider looking dangerous ahead of Il Giro. Carthy just seems to get better as his stature grows within EF Education Nippo. This week he is racing Tour of the Alps, and riding high in the GC – but he hasn’t quite produced that same explosive display that Yates has. Expect to see EF boss Jonathan Vaughters tweeting the word “HUGE” a lot in the Giro’s third week.
Nibali smashed his wrist up pretty badly last week and has since had surgery to try and repair the damage. So far, all the noises coming out of the Trek-Segafredo camp have been broadly positive, but – ultimately – nobody wants to be going under the surgeon’s scalpel three weeks ahead of a Grand Tour. The race is on for Nibali to get back fit, but the odds are surely against him.
So far, the Frenchman has shown nothing this season that would indicate he is ready for a full GC tilt in the Giro. He is 13 minutes adrift of the race lead in the Tour of the Alps, and he finished 35th and 43rd in the other two stage races he has done. We can’t wait to see the Frenchman back to his heroic best, but it doesn’t feel like 2021 will be the year it happens.
'One of those climbs you can love or hate' - Nibali on the Stelvio
Remco Evenepoel & Egan Bernal
Two wunderkinds, two serious injuries that abbreviated their 2020 seasons. Both Egan Bernal and Remco Evenepoel are on their roads to recovery, although we would probably say the Colombian is further down the route. He has raced so far this year and looked decent, but his short-notice decision to skip the Tour of the Alps does put a question mark over his level. We shall see what sort of condition he arrives in – and whether his back can hold out through three attritional weeks in Italy.
Evenepoel is yet more of an unknown quantity; he has not raced at all yet this year, and the first event on his programme is Il Giro itself. Can he possibly be ready by then? It would be a miracle. But also, who better to perform such a feat than the miraculous man from Schepdaal.
Honestly, who ever knows with this guy? He is one of the most beautiful bike riders in the world to witness on the attack, but there always seems to be something lacking when it comes to consistency over three weeks. Based on what we’ve seen of him this year his level looks very good, with a third place on GC at Tirreno a particularly encouraging sign. The likely team he’ll have around him also seems just about as strong as Bahrain Victorious could put together – might this be his year, finally?
After Giro opener it is Almeida, not Evenepoel, who looks like Deceuninck's strongest rider
'He’s an absolute monster' - Wiggins raves about Ganna after Giro opener