The starting field at the 106th Giro d'Italia is more top-class than it has been for a long time. Belgian road world champion Remco Evenepoel and three-time Vuelta champion Primoz Roglic of Slovenia are the top favorites in today's time trial.
But former Tour de France winner Geraint Thomas and ex-Giro winner Tao Geoghegan Hart from Great Britain are also there. And what can the German hopeful Lennard Kämna do?
The world champion
After winning the 2022 Tour of Spain, world champion Remco Evenepoel is chasing his second Grand Tour victory. And the shape is right for the Belgian talent of the century. In April he easily won the spring classic Liège-Bastogne-Liège. Then it was back to the altitude training camp. The 23-year-old has long been on a par with the big names in his industry. In Belgium, the exceptional athlete, who in 2016 was still a junior national player with the record-breaking Belgian soccer champions RSC Anderlecht and ran the Brussels half marathon in 1:16:15 hours at the age of 16, has already been compared to Eddy Merckx. Incidentally, the cycling legend first won the Giro before he went on the tour and finally triumphed five times.
The Olympic champion
Three-time Vuelta winner, Tour second in 2020, Giro third in 2019 - with the former ski jumper Primoz Roglic from Slovenia, a top placement is almost guaranteed - if he makes it through. Because the bad luck from the fall messed up a few races for the 33-year-old. Roglic had to give up after a crash on the 2021 and 2022 tours as well as on the Vuelta last year. The Olympic time trial champion then underwent shoulder surgery. But he found his form long ago, as he proved with his victories in Tirreno-Adriatico and the Tour of Catalonia - just ahead of Evenepoel, by the way. In the Jumbo Visma team, however, he is only number two behind Tour Champion Jonas Vingegaard.
The Old Star
What else is possible for Welshman Geraint Thomas? The 36-year-old can no longer match his outstanding form from the 2018 Tour victory. But it was still enough for a top placement. Like last summer, when Thomas was the best behind the two high-flyers Vingegaard and Tadej Pogacar (Slovenia) in France. This year he was thrown back due to illness and was not yet able to convince. The Ineos team hopes that Thomas can get involved again in the difficult third week.
Tao Geoghegan Hart is the only rider in the field to have won the Giro before. That was in 2020 when the man from London, as a big outsider, only took the pink jersey on the last day in the individual time trial. After that, Hart didn't get along very well. He hadn't won a race for the past two years, until he recently returned to the Tour of the Alps with two stage wins and overall victory. His advantage could be the strong Ineos team.
The German Hope
In recent years, Lennard Kämna has enjoyed all the freedom in the German Bora-hansgrohe team and has repeatedly set individual highlights. In 2020 he won a stage in the high mountains of the Tour, and in 2022 he triumphed in the Giro on Mount Etna. In addition, the 26-year-old narrowly missed out on the yellow jersey with a courageous performance in the Tour of France. Now the highly talented - Kämna was already Junior World Champion in 2014 - wants to tackle the overall ranking. Less spectacle, but three weeks at the limit with the best.