Velogames Italy 2023 – Part 2
The biggest factor on this year race will definitely be Covid. While a positive test does not mean you are out anymore, the virus could still spread and the degree of symptoms will vary among riders.
We are used to see sprinters, general classifications, pure climbers, puncheurs and barouders share the stages. However, there is a unanimous feeling this year; that break-aways will not have that many wins. The hunger from Mads Pedersen coming with a really strong team and Gaviria with a Movistar team dedicated to his cause will make things really tight for breakaways on flat days.
In the mountains, the expected Remco vs Roglič battle will set a really high pace again lessening the chances of the breakaway win.
- Remco Evenepoel (Soudal-Quick Step) (26) : He has the edge over his Slovenian rival due to his suddenly stronger team as compared to a constantly weakening Jumbo-Visma. Also, Remco Evenepoel could be slightly faster than Roglič on time-trial. But if it comes toe-toe with sprints for bonus seconds, Remco is nowhere near Roglic.
- Primož Roglič (Jumbo-Visma) (24) : He is starting on the back foot with a ravaged Covid team. Yet, he is the more experienced and knows how to handle 3 weeks on racing. While he is expected to lose some time to Remco on the time-trials, he could still pull out a monstrous Olympic-like TT. And if not, he will be on attacking mode to put Remco under pressure, something we have not seen in Catalunya.
- Geraint Thomas (INEOS Grenadiers) (18) : Just like in the Tour de France 2022, he timed his peak perfectly to coincide with the Giro. If he says he is well, it means he is well. He can time-trial expertly and his tempo ride might benefit him while Remco and Roglič look at each other. But Tao Georghan hart is higher at team hierarchy.
- João Almeida (UAE Team Emirates) (16) : He seems to have a team dedicated to his cause on paper. Team UAE Emirates on the road is a notorious mess! But he has his own style of racing and no one can bring as much of a roller-coaster emotional ride than him. Pick him and you will be having one hell of a time watching the races live!
- Aleksandr Vlasov (BORA-hansgrohe) (14) : He is one of the fastest sprinters among the climbers. He always seems to be among the first big men to be dropped and yet somehow ends up in the final top 1p of the grand tours!
- Thymen Arensman (INEOS Grenadiers) (12) : He has yet to show the climbing skills he promised last year. He remains a good time-trialist though and will be an incredible asset for Tao and Thomas.
- Pavel Sivakov (INEOS Grenadiers) (12) : The neo-French is yet another from Ineos who could aspire to leadership. How the British team will play it out over 3 weeks depends on the race situation (if the overall is won and if the podium is playable) and the number of riders left – cue. crashes, illness…)
- Brandon McNulty (UAE Team Emirates) (10) : He has been quietly growing from Tirreno Adriatico to Itzulia Basque country. It would not surprise anyone, given his TT abilities if he was to have claim for leadership.
- Bob Jungels (BORA-hansgrohe) (8) : A real all rounder- but not just meant to be his team main man. He will be in many many breakaways to try to snatch a win.
- Rigoberto Urán (EF Education-EasyPost) (8) : I personally like him as an option but his classification as an all-rounder make him an unlikely choice, The Colombian is experienced, steady and knows how to ride to a top 10.
- Warren Barguil (Team Arkéa Samsic) (8) : Probably more of a climber than all-rounder. He has not shown any form so far to consider him in the general battle. A stage win seems very likely.
- Bauke Mollema (Trek-Segafredo) (8) : The old fox is desperately trying to complete his set of Grand Tours’ stage wins. He usually goes well in the last week when many are tired. While the possibility of stage success does not really look great for breakaways in the last week, Bauke Mollema will still earn you some precious velogames points after taking his time trial to another level last year.
- Diego Ulissi (UAE Team Emirates) (8) : Team UAE Emirates ride how they want when Pogacar is no here. Diego can climb. Diego can punch. Diego can sprint.
- Mads Pedersen (Trek-Segafredo) (14) : Contender for flat time-trials and bunch sprints. Favourite for tricky sprint days. Short climbs play to his advantage. His 14 points might deter some but remember, the guy said he hates to ride at the back and could still animate mountain stage to earn some Ciclamino points.
- Fernando Gaviria (Movistar Team) (10) : His recent win at Tour De Romandie might place him as the sprinter in form. He will struggle more than Pedersen and Matthews on some lumpy days.
- Michael Matthews (Team Jayco AlUla) (10) : He can time-trial (not as prefectly as Mads). He can Sprint (not as fast as Mads). He definitely can climb better than Mads. A really good alternative if you dont have the 14 points for Mads Pedersen.
- Pascal Ackermann (UAE Team Emirates) (10) : He seems to have diversified his abilities this year; his climbing is a little bit better but he seems to have lost some speed.
- Kaden Groves (Alpecin-Deceuninck) (8) : Probably the favourite 8 points of many. He gets over short climbs pretty easily and enjoys short punches! And he is fast with a team expert at sprint finishes.
- Mark Cavendish (Astana Qazaqstan Team) (8) : The team selected around him shows that he is at the start more likely for shape building for the Tour de France rather than his stage wins.
- Jonathan Milan (Bahrain-Victorious) (8) : The young sprinter has impressed with his ability to get over lumps. He is also fast.
- Simone Consonni (Cofidis) (8) : I really liked his form this seasonso far. While it will be hard for him to snatch a stage win, he will be there and about. Not the best 8 points sprinter choice.
- Max Kanter (Movistar Team) (8) : Will lead out for Gaviria.
- Alberto Dainese (Team DSM) (8) : Will be alternating with Mayrhofer.
- Andrea Vendrame (AG2R Citroën Team) (6) : Interestingly, he is not a pure sprinter. While he might mix himself in pure sprint, he will definitely be on the hunt on more hilly terrain for stage wins from breakaways.
- Vincenzo Albanese (EOLO-Kometa) (6) : More of puncheur than sprinters, he is an EXCELLENT option at 6. The only issue is that we can choose only 2 sprinters at max.
- Davide Ballerini (Soudal-Quick Step) (6) : He is the sole sprinter for Lotto-Soudal Quickstep, with 8 potential sprints that he could challenge and those assists points from Remco Evenepoel, A very interesting, if not the best 6 points option of the whole game.
- Tao Geoghegan Hart (INEOS Grenadiers) (16) : We have seen his best form since that 2020 Giro win. A serious threat and contender for the podium. He really looks confident and affirmative.
- Jack Haig (Bahrain-Victorious) (12) : Designated leader of the team, he has been sub par his team-mates so far this season. But that was maybe all about building form.
- Jay Vine (UAE Team Emirates) (12) : After being tipped for podium at the Giro after his TDU antics. He has not raced since UAE where he was suffering from his knee.
- Damiano Caruso (Bahrain-Victorious) (10) : Second place of the Giro D’Italia in 2021, his form suddenly peaked in Romandie. Watch out as he did an amazing time-trial there!
- Lennard Kämna (BORA-hansgrohe) (10) : There is no greater guarantee in Velogames than the profitability of Kämna in stage races. TIme-trial, mountains, break away, he can win from them all!
- Hugh Carthy (EF Education-EasyPost) (10) : He will be playing it quietly until the last week. Then if the weather and the covid situation permits, he will completely erupt to life!
- Thibaut Pinot (Groupama-FDJ) (10) : For his last Giro, the Frenchman made an intelligent statement that it impossible to win from breakaways nowadays. He aims to stick with the best as much as he can and stike for a stage win when the chance comes. He will have a great Giro. Just stay healthy Tibopino!
- Santiago Buitrago (Bahrain-Victorious) (8) : His young age and his deficit in time-trial will not allow him to challenge for GC. He is a very good and powerful climber who could dominate in the mountains. With Gino Mäder gone, he might not get as much freedom though as he had two leaders to look after (Haig and Caruso).
- Lorenzo Fortunato (EOLO-Kometa) (8) : He has shown decent form at the Tour De Alps. While his stage victory at The Zocoloan and the manner will live long, he comes here for a stage victory firstly and maybe aim for the Azzura jersey later.
- Domenico Pozzovivo (Israel-Premier Tech) (8) : The 40 year old will somehow end up in the final top 10.
- Koen Bouwman (Jumbo-Visma) (8) : Last year, KOM winner will have less if not, any freedom this time as he will be one of Primož Roglič guards.
- Sepp Kuss (Jumbo-Visma) (8) : No personal ambition, just here to guide Roglic. Yet, the climbs in the last weeks suit him and he could have a go if Roglic is not in the race anymore.
- Jan Hirt (Soudal-Quick Step) (8) : Had a stellar Giro last year but will be on Remco duties this time.
- Patrick Konrad (BORA-hansgrohe) (6) : With Vlasov not an outright favourite, both Konrad and Kämna will be trying things on their own.
- Jefferson Alexander Cepeda EF Education-EasyPost) (6) : Not the same Cepeda who trolled us 2 years ago. This one looks more consistent in his climbs and will be aiming for breakaway moves.
- Rein Taaramäe (Intermarché-Circus-Wanty) (6) : He should be in top 15 final.
- Óscar Rodríguez, Einer Augusto Rubio, Carlos Verona (Movistar Team) (6) : All stage hunters.
- Ilan Van Wilder (Soudal-Quick Step) (6) : Lots of assist points from Remco as well as being a good time trialist.
- Harm Vanhoucke (Team DSM) (6) : He has stated that he is ready for general classifications fight. He has often shown non-consistency in one stage races though.
- Alessandro Covi (UAE Team Emirates) (6) : A potential winner for stage 3 and stage 8 while trying to protect Almeida on other days.
- Davide Formolo (UAE Team Emirates) (6) : Fighter of a rider who will be Almeida main asset to keep things together. Very often used as a satellite rider sent up the road.
- Filippo Ganna (INEOS Grenadiers) (10) : The absolute favourite for 2 of the 3 time trials. He also climbs better and has a top 10 chance for stage 20. In between, he will getting into breakaways or might even try to anticipate and go for a long shot move in the finale of some stages.
- Magnus Cort (EF Education-EasyPost) (8) : After an explosive performance in Algarve, he went a bit quiet. He will quietly grow into shape with the Giro. Sprint, time-trial. mid mountain he can challenge them all!
- Stefan Küng (Groupama-FDJ) (8) : He specifically chose the Giro this year for its 73 km time trials. Just like Ganna, he has improved his climbing as well. He will not deceive.
- Rohan Dennis (Jumbo-Visma) (8) : Last minute addition whose form is unknown!
- Aurélien Paret-Peintre (AG2R Citroën Team) (6) : He had a really good Paris Nice (11th) and his 18th at Liege Bastogne Liege shows that the form is here. Stage chaser and possible final top 15.
- Nicola Conci (Alpecin-Deceuninck) (6) : A really good puncheur!
- Stefano Oldani (Alpecin-Deceuninck) (6) : Another puncheur who enjoy long days in breakaways.
- Kristian Sbaragli (Alpecin-Deceuninck) (6) : Back up for sprint for Groves.
- Samuele Battistella, Joe Dombrowski,Luis León Sánchez (Astana Qazaqstan Team) (6) : All stage hunters.
- Christian Scaroni (Astana Qazaqstan Team) (6) : A good climber who could aim for a final top 15.
- Andrea Pasqualon (Bahrain-Victorious) (6) : A sprinter who can get over climbs.
- Edoardo Zambanini (Bahrain-Victorious) (6) : Breakaway expert.
- Alberto Bettiol (EF Education-EasyPost) (6) : Form not reliable.
- Ben Healy (EF Education-EasyPost) (6) : He has performed beyond expectations already in the classics, but at 22, we know very little as to how he will handle the next 3 weeks.
- Jake Stewart (Groupama-FDJ) (6) : Will he be sprinting in the absence of Demare? Very likely seeing the sprint train, Groupama FDJ brought here though his form has not been spectaculaire far this yesr
- Ben Swift (INEOS Grenadiers) (6) : Ineos only sprint option.
- Niccolò Bonifazio & Sven Erik Bystrøm (Intermarché-Circus-Wanty) (6) : Two sprinters who look more likely to alternate with Arne Marit.
- Lorenzo Rota (Intermarché-Circus-Wanty) (6) : He will be stage hunting rather than aiming for GC.
- Simon Clarke (Israel-Premier Tech) (6) : A potential stage winner on long hard days.
- Matthew Riccitello (Israel-Premier Tech) (6) : A young climber who could finish in the top 20.
- Jan Tratnik (Jumbo-Visma) (6) : A good time-trialist, plus assist fof Roglic.
- Josef Černý (Soudal-Quick Step) (6) : Can he repeat his Tour de Romandie prologue exploit? Unlikely with longer TT kms.
- Thibault Guernalec (Team Arkéa Samsic) (6) : A decent time-trialist
- Andreas Leknessund (Team DSM) (6) : A good time-trialist who has shown very impressive potential in last year Tour de Suisse. He seems to have planned and timed his shape growth for the Giro. Could be a surprise top 10 contender.
- Eddie Dunbar (Team Jayco AlUla) (6) : After an unlucky start to his season with a crash at Algarve, he has shown some reassuring form at Romandie (9th). Could integrate the final top 15.
- Filippo Zana (Team Jayco AlUla) (6) : I was very impressed by the Italian champion on the Thyon 200 climb. Will be looking forward to be impressed even more in his home grand tour.
- Toms Skujiņš (Trek-Segafredo) (6) : Hard worker rider who will be a potential stage winner.
- Natnael Tesfatsion (Trek-Segafredo) (6) : He will be the one the team will push forward when it gets a little too steep for Mads. Could still do breakaways.
- Larry Warbasse (AG2R Citroën Team) (4) : Has been enjoying breakaway moves recently.
- Davide Bais & Mattia Bais (EOLO-Kometa) (4) : Expect to see a lot of the brothers at the front end of the race.
- Samuele Zoccarato (Green Project-Bardiani CSF-Faizanè) (4) : He has been enjoying a lot of time in breakaways this season, the most by any riders this season.
- Will Barta (Movistar Team) (4) : Good time trialist (5th in Romandie’s climber’s TT specifically).
- Pieter Serry (Soudal-Quick Step) (4) : Assist for Remco.
- Lukas Pöstlberger (Team Jayco AlUla) (4) : Breakaway fanatics.
- Amanuel Ghebreigzabhier (Trek-Segafredo) (4) : With no real leaders in the mountain for Trek-Segafredo, the Erithrean will have all the freedom in the world in the Italian mountains.
- Daan Hoole (Trek-Segafredo) (4) : An exquisite time-trialist who can also bring home some assists courtesy of Mads Pedersen.
- Niko Denz (Bora – Hansgrohe) (4) : And this is where I might have cracked the Velogames Italy 2023. Attracted attention with his performance in the Tour de Romandie prologue (4th), he did participate in the 2 bunch sprints with 2 top 15 finishes. No one else is going to sprint at Bora
Wildcards and team balance
How to balance our 100 points and who to choose as wild cards? Here are some thoughts from some very kind souls from twitter!
This year’s Giro presents us with a fun looking route. Two obvious favourites and a bunch of high quality riders fighting for the last place of the podium, or at least that’s what some may think. Do I disagree? Yes and No. Remco and Roglic are obviously the best GC riders here. But it’s a long Giro and there’s 3 ITT favoring Remco, but there’s also a super hard 3rd week where I’m not sure how Remco will do. All I’m trying to say with this intro is anything can happen and all of the following choices and opinions might be completely right or absolutely wrong.
Now the Velogames strategy:
The 2 All rounders: Both Remco or Roglic are great picks as main riders, I’m only picking one of them, most likely Remco due to his ITT advantage and Jumbo’s current Covid situation, if everything goes according to the plan they should score something like 2200-2400 points each. My second pick Is going to be Almeida, not only because I can’t leave the guy out of my team, but also because he seems in pretty good shape this year and looks like his ITT his slightly better than last year which favours him in this Giro. I also see great value in Mollema if you’re looking for a cheaper option. – Pedro_M
Climbers: Tao, Carthy and Haig are the ones to go with if you’re looking for a climber who can get you some nice GC classification and not only good stage results. If you wanna favor stage performances I’d go with Kamna, Buitrago, Fortunato. Personally I’m still trying to decide between a Tao+Verona, and a better GC performance and a stage hunter like the Movistar guy, or an Haig+ Fortunato, with a likely weaker GC performance compared to Tao’s but gaining some stage hunting power and likely Mountain Classification fight with the Italian. – Pedro_M
Sprinters: When it comes to the fast guys I only see one option; Mads Pedersen. The Danish will most likely take 2/3 wins and 3/4 top10 which will place him at the top of the Points Classification. I can also see some value on Kaden Groves, the sprinters field isn’t the strongest, and he looks in great shape, I wouldn’t rule him out of the fight for 3/4 stages. – Pedro_M
Unclassified: This for me is the hardest one. What strategy to take? Go for assist points? Go for breakaway riders? Try to guess a stage winner? How many points do you have left to spend? I believe we all struggle to find the answer, so I’m just gonna drop a few names. Serry, the Bais brothers, Paret-Peintre, Cort, Lafay, Rota, Dombrowski.
Wildcard: You can pick anyone right? From all different types of riders. There’s ot much to say, in my opinion either you pick a All-rounder, like Mollema, or you go for another sprinter. My choice here is Groves, I can see him easily picking up 700 points here, which I think will be a nice addition to my team score. – Pedro_M
All said, just have fun picking your team, and make your own choices, I’d rather loose with riders I chose than riders someone said we’re good picks. 😁💪🚴♂️ – Pedro_M