Forget the route – a race is only as good as its riders and its teams. So with the 105th edition of the Giro d’Italia fast approaching, let’s take a closer look at those 22 teams and some of those stand-out 176 riders.
Pink jersey and a sprinters’ guide will follow this week ahead of the grande partenza in Budapest on Friday 6th May. But for now, the focus falls on the teams. Here is a brief overview of all the squads taking part – including their star assets, best Giro moments, and the vital question of which traditional Italian dish they most resemble…

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  • Lilian Calmejane
  • Jaakko Hanninen
  • Felix Gall
  • Mikael Cherel
  • Nans Peters
  • Nicolas Prodhomme
  • Andrea Vendrame
  • Lawrence Naesen
Star Rider: Gosh. A tough one. Lilian Calmejane? Andrea Vendrame? Nans Peters? Who knows?!
Memorable Moment: Take your pick from Vendrame’s stage win last year or Peters’ solo exploits in 2019.
Racing Style: Sending riders up the road and hoping for the best.
Giro goals: Sending riders up the road and hoping for the best.
If they were an Italian food... Spaghetti cacio e pepe. Sounds boring on paper but tastes delicious with the sharpness of the pepper offsetting the oozy cheesiness.

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ASTANA QAZAQSTAN

  • Vincenzo Nibali
  • Miguel Angel Lopez
  • David de la Cruz
  • Valerio Conti
  • Fabio Felline
  • Joe Dombrowski
  • Harold Tejada
  • Vadim Pronskiy
Star Rider: Vincenzo Nibali
Memorable Moment: The late Michele Scarponi scaling the Col delle’Agnello in pole position before paving the way for teammate Nibali’s unlikely glory in 2016.
Racing Style: This year it’s been very much a mass DNF or OTL. But in days past, Astana used to control the Giro in ways not entirely dissimilar to Team Sky during the Tour.
Giro goals: A stage win for Nibali on his last appearance and a podium finish for Miguel Angel Lopez.
If they were an Italian food... Polenta. Always on the menu – especially in the mountains – yet no one understands why.

ALPECIN-FENIX

  • Mathieu van der Poel
  • Stefano Oldani
  • Jakub Mareczko
  • Dries De Bondt
  • Michael Gogl
  • Senne Leysen
  • Tobias Bayer
  • Oscar Riesebeek
Star Rider: Mathieu van der Poel – who else?
Memorable Moment: Winning the opening sprint stage at last year’s Giro through Tim Merlier – something they would emulate at the Tour and Vuelta through Merlier and Jasper Philipsen.
Racing Style: Working for one goal – whether that’s a sprint win or for a Van der Poel special.
Giro goals: The opening stage and a stint in pink for Van der Poel, who may also target the maglia ciclamino should he go the distance.
If they were an Italian food... Tiramisu. Has fast become a staple, providing any race a much-needed pick-me-up at the business end.

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BAHRAIN VICTORIOUS

  • Mikel Landa
  • Pello Bilbao
  • Wout Poels
  • Jan Tratnik
  • Phil Bauhaus
  • Santiago Buitrago
  • Domen Novak
  • Jasha Sütterlin
Star Rider: Mikel ‘Landismo’ Landa
Memorable Moment: Damiano Caruso soloing to glory in the penultimate stage last year, giving the team a well-deserved second place on GC after Landa crashed out in the opening week.
Racing Style: It usually involves going all-in for Landa before the Spaniard toils to eighth place on a key summit finish. Lately, the wins have come from across the board after some excellent individual performances.
Giro goals: A podium finish for Landa and a top five for Pello Bilbao; a sprint win for Phil Bauhaus.
If they were an Italian food... Pizza marinara. No time for cheese – just lashings of tomato on a firm base.

BARDIANI-CSF-FAIZANE

  • Sacha Modolo
  • Filippo Fiorelli
  • Filippo Zana
  • Luca Covili
  • Alessandro Tonelli
  • Davide Gabburo
  • Samuele Zoccarato
  • Luca Rastelli
Star Rider: Sacha Modolo
Memorable Moment: A magical 2014 when three riders from the Italian wildcard team – Marco Canola, Enrico Battaglin and Stefano Pirazzi – picked up wins in the space of five days.
Racing Style: Make the break or suffer the consequences.
Giro goals: Besides making every breakaway and having someone in the picture for the fuga prize, a third career stage win for Modolo seven years after his previous two triumphs.
If they were an Italian food... Spaghetti carbonara. Ever present on the menu, can be cooked terribly, but occasionally really hits the spot.

BORA-HANSGROHE

  • Wilco Kelderman
  • Lennard Kämna
  • Jai Hindley
  • Emanuel Buchmann
  • Ben Zwiehoff
  • Giovanni Aleotti
  • Patrick Gamper
  • Cesare Benedetti
Star Rider: Wilco Kelderman – but don’t bet on it.
Memorable Moment: Besides Peter Sagan’s two wins and maglia ciclamino, Cesare Benedetti’s only pro win in 2019 brought a tear to the eye in Pinerolo.
Racing Style: Protecting the top 10 positions of Kelderman, Jai Hindley and Emanuel Buchmann, all of whom will look to ghost their way to a high finish in Verona.
Giro goals: A stage win and the blue KOM jersey for Lennard Kamna, and a top five for one of their many outside GC options.
If they were an Italian food... Pizza quattro staggioni. There’s a bit of everything but you never know if it will come spread out across the three weeks or clumped together in disparate lumps.

COFIDIS

  • Guillaume Martin
  • Davide Cimolai
  • Simone Consonni
  • Anthony Perez
  • Pierre-Luc Perichon
  • Davide Villella
  • Remy Rochas
  • Wesley Kreder
Star Rider: Guillaume Martin, cycling’s Descartes.
Memorable Moment: Victor Lafay’s breakaway victory in Stage 8 last year. Not only was it Cofidis’ first on the Giro in 11 years, it was the 25-year-old Frenchman’s first as a pro.
Racing Style: Doing enough to get invited next year.
Giro goals: A stage win in the mountains and top 10 finish for Martin, plus a good showing in the sprints from Davide Cimolai and Simone Consonni.
If they were an Italian food... Insalata caprese. Just without the basil.

DRONE HOPPER-ANDRONI GIOCATTOLI

  • Jhonatan Restrepo
  • Jefferson Cepeda
  • Natnael Testfatsion
  • Andrii Ponomar
  • Simone Ravanelli
  • Eduardo Sepulveda
  • Mattia Bais
  • Eduard-Michael Grosu
Star Rider: Eritrea’s Natnael Tesfatsion or Ukraine’s Andrii Ponomar – two youngsters with bags of potential.
Memorable Moment: Fausto Masnada’s victory in 2019 – Androni’s first in seven years on the Giro – had manager Gianni Savio jogging up the home straight in celebration.
Racing Style: A bit all over the place – as you’d expect from a team with riders from seven different nationalities and no clear hierarchy.
Giro goals: Making every break and giving silverfox owner Savio something to cheer. Argentina’s Eduardo Sepulveda being the most likely outlet in the hills…
If they were an Italian food... Nonna’s meatballs. That grandma being Gianni Savio’s, of course.

EF EDUCATION-EASYPOST

  • Hugh Carthy
  • Magnus Cort
  • Jonathan Caicedo
  • Simon Carr
  • Diego Andres Camargo
  • Owain Doull
  • Odd Christian Eiking
  • Merhawi Kudus
Star Rider: The moustachioed Magnus Cort
Memorable Moment: Besides their annual limited edition zany kit for the Giro, Alberto Bettiol’s solo win in Stradella last year was special.
Racing Style: Getting those limited-edition kits some screen time.
Giro goals: Stage wins and the ciclamino jersey for Cort, a tilt at the GC for Hugh Carthy.
If they were an Italian food... Ham and pineapple pizza. Not to everyone’s taste but big in the US.

EOLO-KOMETA

  • Lorenzo Fortunato
  • Erik Fetter
  • Diego Rosa
  • Francesco Gavazzi
  • Vincenzo Albanese
  • Samuele Rivi
  • Davide Bais
  • Mirco Maestri
Star Rider: Lorenzo Fortunato
Memorable Moment: Fortunato’s win in the mist on Monte Zoncolan last year was the stuff of legends – and forced owner Alberto Contador to ride all the way from Madrid to Milan.
Racing Style: Getting in the breaks.
Giro goals: A stage win for Francesco Gavazzi after coming so close last year, and Diego Rosa improving on his career high 23rd place on GC.
If they were an Italian food... Spaghetti alla Puttanesca. A dish loved by Italians, puttanesca translates as “in the style of the whore” – which may explain the team’s sponsorship deal with Burger King.

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GROUPAMA-FDJ

  • Arnaud Demare
  • Ramon Sinkeldam
  • Ignatas Konovalovas
  • Jacopo Guarnieri
  • Attila Valter
  • Tobias Ludvigsson
  • Miles Scotson
  • Clement Davy
Star Rider: Arnaud Demare
Memorable Moment: Frenchman Demare’s four wins and maglia ciclamino in 2020.
Racing Style: Going all-in for the sprints while hoping one of their climbers can pull something off in the mountains.
Giro goals: A return to form for the struggling Demare, and a stage win from Attila Valter in the year the race starts in his native Hungary.
If they were an Italian food... Linguine alle vongole. An Italian dish with a French twist from the Cote d’Azur.

INEOS GRENADIERS

  • Richard Carapaz
  • Pavel Sivakov
  • Richie Porte
  • Ben Swift
  • Salvatore Puccio
  • Jonathan Castroviejo
  • Ben Tulett
  • Jhonatan Narváez
Star Rider: The 2019 champion Richard Carapaz
Memorable Moment: Take your pick from Chris Froome’s solo ride on the Colle delle Finistre, Tao Geoghegan Hart’s last-gasp pink in 2020, or Egan Bernal’s victory in 2021; Sir Dave Brailsford’s team have won three of the last four editions.
Racing Style: Not as suffocating as their long reign in France – although it will be interesting to see how they fare without Filippo Ganna’s stage-winning influence for the first time in three years.
Giro goals: The maglia rosa for Carapaz and a high finish for Pavel Sivakov after his crash last year.
If they were an Italian food... Lasagne. The go-to dominant dish, with ragu, bechamel and parmigiano oozing between sheets of sfoglia pasta providing structure, depth and flavour.

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INTERMARCHE-WANTY-GOBERT MATERIAUX

  • Domenico Pozzovivo
  • Biniam Girmay
  • Rein Taaramae,
  • Jan Hirt
  • Lorenzo Rota
  • Barnabás Peák
  • Simone Petilli
  • Aime De Gendt
Star Rider: Domenico Pozzovivo, the piano-playing economist
Memorable Moment: Taco van der Hoorn upsetting the sprinters and holding on for a breath-taking breakaway victory in last year’s third stage.
Racing Style: It used to be simply getting in the breaks but the team’s tactics have refined in line with their increased success at WorldTour level.
Giro goals: A high finish for the piano-playing Pozzovivo and a sprint win for African sprint sensation Biniam Girmay on his Grand Tour debut.
If they were an Italian food... Gnocchi ai quattro formaggi. It may seem a bit boring but the sauce has real depth and the potato pasta adds a whole new dimension.

ISRAEL-PREMIER TECH

  • Alessandro De Marchi
  • Alex Dowsett
  • Giacomo Nizzolo
  • Matthias Brandle
  • Rick Zabel
  • Alexander Cataford
  • Jenthe Biermans
  • Reto Hollenstein
Star Rider: Giacomo Nizzolo
Memorable Moment: Alex Dowsett’s soloing to Stage 8 victory in Vieste alongside a stray dog in 2020.
Racing Style: It would usually involve getting in the breaks while protecting their GC hope but the addition of sprinter Nizzolo – and the absence of any genuine overall contender – will shake things up this May.
Giro goals: A third points classification title for Nizzolo and a breakaway win for a livewire like Alessandro De Marchi.
If they were an Italian food... Osso bucco alla Milanese. Beef shank slow-cooked until the meat becomes tender; a mainstay on the menu even if it rarely appeals to the average diner.

JUMBO-VISMA

  • Tom Dumoulin
  • Koen Bouwman
  • Sam Oomen
  • Jos van Emden
  • Edoardo Affini
  • Tobias Foss
  • Pascal Eenkhoorn
  • Gijs Leemreize
Star Rider: Tom Dumoulin, the 2017 champion
Memorable Moment: Unfortunately, it’s still Steven Kruijswijk slamming into a slow wall atop the Colle dell’Agnello while in pink back in 2016.
Racing Style: Less rigid than when supporting Primoz Roglic’s annual pursuit of yellow or red.
Giro goals: A high finish for Dutchman Dumoulin as he leads for the first time since joining from Team Sunweb in 2020.
If they were an Italian food... Tagliatelle al ragu. Or spag bol, if you’re that way inclined. Strong, dependable, known all over the world – but rarely seen in Italy.

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LOTTO SOUDAL

  • Caleb Ewan
  • Thomas De Gendt
  • Roger Kluge
  • Filippo Conca
  • Matthew Holmes
  • Sylvain Moniquet
  • Michael Schwarzmann
  • Harm Vanhoucke
Star Rider: Caleb Ewan
Memorable Moment: Tim Wellens’ solo win at Roccaraso back in 2016 was the stuff of dreams and came in an edition where Lotto’s sprinter Andre Greipel also took a hat-trick of sprint scalps.
Racing Style: Going all-in for the Aussie pocket-rocket Ewan on the flat days while giving breakaway specialist Thomas De Gendt the freedom to try his luck on the hillier stages.
Giro goals: A first win on the Giro for a decade for De Gendt would be the cherry on a cake made up of at least two sprint triumphs for Ewan.
If they were an Italian food... Pizza margherita. Traditional and often eschewed by millennials, but a favourite of the purists and can really hit the spot when the ingredients are right.

MOVISTAR TEAM

  • Alejandro Valverde
  • Jorge Arcas
  • Will Barta
  • Oier Lazkano
  • Antonio Pedrero
  • Jose Joaquin Rojas
  • Sergio Samitier
  • Ivan Ramiro Sosa
Star Rider: Alejandro Valverde
Memorable Moment: Richard Carapaz’s overall win in 2019, as captured through the lens of the documentary The Least Expected Day.
Racing Style: Well, it usually involved a failed trident. But this year there appears to be just the two prongs in the veteran Valverde and the young buck Ivan Sosa.
Giro goals: Stage wins and a top 10 finish for the aforementioned Valverde (in only his second Giro appearance) and Sosa, and plenty of opportunities for the others from breakaways.
If they were an Italian food... Gelato. Let’s be honest – they’re just here for the ice cream.

QUICK-STEP ALPHA VINYL

  • Mark Cavendish
  • Mauri Vansevenant
  • Andrea Bagioli
  • Michael Mørkøv
  • Bert Van Lerberghe
  • Davide Ballerini
  • Pieter Serry
  • Mauro Schmid
Star Rider: Mark Cavendish
Memorable Moment: Joao Almeida’s unexpectedly long run in pink in 2020 was the stuff of dreams, but didn’t half complicate things when it came to the internal leadership structure when Remco Evenepoel made his hotly anticipated Grand Tour debut last year…
Racing Style: The presence of Cavendish and lead-out man Michael Mørkøv suggests Quick-Step are prioritising the sprints and a tilt at the maglia ciclamino won by the Manxman on his last appearance in the Giro, back in 2013.
Giro goals: James Knox, Mauri Vansevenant and Mauro Schmid (a stage winner last year) should benefit from free roles on days when Cav and/or Davide Ballerini are not the priority.
If they were an Italian food... Tartufo. Some people don’t like the smell and, when over-used, they can easily overpower a dish. But when truffles or truffle oil are used right, it’s food fit for a king.

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TEAM BIKEEXCHANGE-JAYCO

  • Simon Yates
  • Lawson Craddock
  • Christopher Jull-Jensen
  • Damien Howson
  • Michael Hepburn
  • Matteo Sobrero
  • Callum Scotson
  • Lucas Hamilton
Star Rider: Simon Yates
Memorable Moment: Esteban Chaves’ win in the Dolomites in 2019 brought another smile to the face of a rider who came close to winning the maglia rosa in 2016.
Racing Style: Formerly Mitchelton-Scott, the team has come close to pulling off overall wins for both Chaves and Simon Yates in the past by riding as a solid unit.
Giro goals: A long-awaited overall win for Yates to draw a line under his 2018 heartbreak, when he imploded in pink with just two days remaining.
If they were an Italian food... Fiori di zucca fritti. The delicious taste of deep-fried courgette flowers stuffed with ricotta is not up for debate. But just like the team’s kit, the outside coating is clearly not good for anyone’s health.

TEAM DSM

  • Romain Bardet
  • Thymen Arensman
  • Cees Bol
  • Alberto Dainese
  • Nico Denz
  • Romain Combaud
  • Martijn Tusveld
  • Chris Hamilton
Star Rider: Roman Bardet
Memorable Moment: The sight of Tom Dumoulin tearing off the maglia rosa and pulling down his bib shorts on the side of the Stelvio in 2017 will take some beating…
Racing Style: A bit like someone wearing red, orange and green garments to a traffic light party, DSM don’t seem to know what they want, so they’re going for it all.
Giro goals: A summit stage win for Bardet would have been a good target until the Frenchman’s recent overall win in the Tour of the Alps has increased expectations. Elsewhere, sprinters Cees Bol and Alberto Dainese will hope to get in on the act, not to forget Chris Hamilton in the hills.
If they were an Italian food... Risotto. Seems like a good idea but a bit samey after a while.

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TREK-SEGAFREDO

  • Bauke Mollema
  • Giulio Ciccone
  • Dario Cataldo
  • Juan Pedro Lopez
  • Jacopo Mosca
  • Mattias Skjelmose Jensen
  • Edward Theuns
  • Otto Vergaerde
Star Rider: Giulio Ciccone
Memorable Moment: Ciccone’s ride over the Mortirolo to snare victory in Ponti di Legno and consolidate his lead in the blue jersey mountains classification remains the pinnacle for a team that has failed to light up the Giro in recent years.
Racing Style: Like a packet of Revels, you hope to get the toffee one each time but often end up grimacing on a coffee or orange cream. They’re a bit all over the place but at least Ciccone, Trek’s toffee, gives them a focal point.
Giro goals: While another blue jersey would be a good return for Ciccone, the 27-year-old will be targeting a maiden Grand Tour top 10 after an unlucky run of three DNFs. Veteran Bauke Mollema will target the breakaways and Edward Theuns will hope to freelance his way to a strong finish in some of the sprints.
If they were an Italian food... Affogato. With Segafredo as co-sponsor in a race in the land of ice cream, you can’t really have it any other way.

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UAE-TEAM EMIRATES

  • João Almeida
  • Fernando Gaviria
  • Davide Formolo
  • Diego Ulissi
  • Rui Costa
  • Alessandro Covi
  • Maximiliano Richeze
  • Rui Oliveira
Star Rider: Joao Almeida
Memorable Moment: Diego Ulissi’s brace of wins in 2020 preceded the team’s structural shift towards Tadej Pogacar’s annual pursuit of yellow.
Racing Style: The arrival of Almeida from Quick-Step will give UAE a bona fide GC option and could coax the best from Davide Formolo, too.
Giro goals: A podium finish for Almeida, stage wins for Italians Ulissi and Alessandro Covi, and a return to form for sprinter Fernando Gaviria.
If they were an Italian food... Pizza fiorentina. All the ingredients are there to make a tasty dish even if there’s a distinct lack of meat. More generally, the question remains whether there’s ever a place for an egg on a pizza.
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Stream the Giro d'Italia live and on-demand on discovery+. You can also watch all the action live on eurosport.co.uk.
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