Assessing the GC Contenders at the 2024 Giro d’Italia

Tadej-Pogacar-2024-Strade-Bianche-Via-Santa-Caterina

The Giro d’Italia, starting this Saturday in Turin, promises another exhilarating chapter in the storied history of this Grand Tour. With a mix of seasoned veterans and promising newcomers, the fight for the Maglia Rosa could be as unpredictable as it is thrilling. Here’s a detailed look at ten riders who could shape the general classification over the gruelling 3,400 kilometres to Rome.

Tadej Pogačar (UAE Team Emirates)

Profile:

  • Strengths: Climbing, time trialling, race tactics
  • Recent form: Wins at Liège-Bastogne-Liège and Tour of Catalonia
  • Past Grand Tour performances: 2 Tour de France wins (2020, 2021), 3 additional Grand Tour podiums

Assessment:
Tadej Pogačar enters the Giro as the clear favourite. His all-around capabilities and explosive power make him the man to beat. Despite a relatively less challenging route in terms of climbing, his early-season form suggests he is in peak condition to tackle the Giro’s unique demands.

Geraint-Thomas-2024-Ineos-Grenadiers
Geraint Thomas

Geraint Thomas (Ineos Grenadiers)

Profile:

  • Strengths: Time trialling, experience in stage races
  • Recent form: Active in early-season stage races, training focused on key Giro stages
  • Past Grand Tour performances: 2018 Tour de France winner, multiple podium finishes

Assessment:
Thomas’ runner-up finish last year and his methodical preparation for this season signal strong intentions. With a strategic focus on time trials and crucial mountain stages, he remains a formidable contender, supported by a robust Ineos team.

Dani Martínez (Bora-Hansgrohe)

Profile:

  • Strengths: Climbing, consistency over three weeks
  • Recent form: Strong performances in Volta ao Algarve and early season races
  • Past Grand Tour performances: 5th in 2021 Giro

Assessment:
Martínez has shown he can mix it with the best in the mountains and will be a critical figure in the high-altitude battles. His leadership role at Bora-Hansgrohe gives him a platform to potentially improve on his previous best of fifth place.

Romain Bardet
(Photo Credit: Tim de Waele/Getty Images)

Romain Bardet (DSM-Firmenich-PostNL)

Profile:

  • Strengths: Climbing, stage race experience
  • Recent form: 2nd place at Liège-Bastogne-Liège
  • Past Grand Tour performances: Twice podium finisher at the Tour de France

Assessment:
Bardet’s experience and recent form, including a podium at a Monument, position him as a serious dark horse. His affinity for tough climbs and stage race nous could see him vie for at least a podium spot.

Cian Uijtdebroeks (Visma-Lease a Bike)

Profile:

  • Strengths: Climbing, youthful exuberance
  • Recent form: Top ten finishes in stage races leading up to the Giro
  • Past Grand Tour performances: 8th in 2023 Vuelta a España

Assessment:
The young Belgian’s debut at the Giro comes with high expectations following a promising start to his Grand Tour career. His performance in Spain last year suggests a top-ten finish is within reach, if not better.

Ben O’Connor
(Photo Credit: Tim de Waele/Getty Images)

Ben O’Connor (Decathlon AG2R La Mondiale)

Profile:

  • Strengths: Climbing, Grand Tour experience
  • Recent form: Consistent top finishes in early-season races
  • Past Grand Tour performances: 4th at 2021 Tour de France

Assessment:
O’Connor has redirected his focus to the Giro this year and is a serious contender for the podium. His preparation and past performances suggest he could be one of the surprises of this year’s race.

Michael Woods (Israel-Premier Tech)

Profile:

  • Strengths: Climbing, stage wins
  • Recent form: Lesser focus on Giro in past seasons
  • Past Grand Tour performances: Stage wins at the Tour de France and Vuelta a España

Assessment:
While not a traditional GC contender, Woods’ climbing ability could see him challenge on specific stages, making him a potential threat in the overall standings if race dynamics play to his strengths.

Damiano Caruso AGR 19
Damiano Caruso

Antonio Tiberi and Damiano Caruso (Bahrain Victorious)

Profiles:

  • Strengths: Climbing, time trialling (Tiberi); consistency and experience (Caruso)
  • Recent form: Strong performances in early-season races, including podiums and top tens
  • Past Grand Tour performances: Caruso 2nd in 2021 Giro, Tiberi showing promise in shorter stage races

Assessment:
Tiberi, the young talent, and Caruso, the seasoned pro, present Bahrain Victorious with dual threats. Tiberi’s debut could spark a surprise, while Caruso’s experience makes him a steady presence in the top ten.

Eddie Dunbar (Jayco AlUla)

Profile:

  • Strengths: Climbing, breakthrough potential
  • Recent form: Solid performances in preparation races
  • Past Grand Tour performances: 7th at 2023 Giro

Assessment:
Dunbar’s seventh place last year was a revelation. If he continues on this trajectory, improving further could see him push for a top-five finish.

Juan Pedro López
(Photo Credit:Tim de Waele/Getty Images)

Juan Pedro López (Lidl-Trek)

Profile:

  • Strengths: Climbing, aggressive racing style
  • Recent form: Winner of the Tour of the Alps
  • Past Grand Tour performances: 10th in 2022 Giro

Assessment:
López comes into the Giro with boosted confidence after a strong showing in the Alps. Known for his tenacity, he could well improve on his previous best Giro finish.

As the peloton rolls out of Turin, these contenders will start a journey filled with strategic nuances and physical demands, each aiming to dethrone Pogačar from what many see as his race to lose. This year’s Giro is not just about who is strongest, but also who can best manage the unexpected challenges that this race invariably presents.