Ten ultimo minuto dark horse tips for your Giro d’Italia pool!


The first week of October does not have the Cosa Nostra, the dreaded Sicilian mafia, the power on the Italian island. No, just make it Our Racethe race mafia of! With Vincenzo Nibali, from Sicily, as chief of all chiefs at 175 capo’s in his wake. In the Leader’s jersey picks out the rough diamonds capable of taking control of the race family!

Geraint Thomas, Simon Yates, Steven Kruijswijk and so on. There are a lot of beautiful people at the start of the Giro d’Italia, which starts on Saturday with a fifteen-kilometer trial against the clock in Palermo. However, the above names will not make the difference with friends or colleagues in the pools, the blank magazines that have remained under the radar, or only got out of it this year, do that.

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Aleksandr Vlasov – Astana

We start with a man who can no longer be called a dark horse. Aleksandr Vlasov competed in top five in every (!) race he contested this year. Third in the Tour of Lombardy, fifth in Tirreno-Adriatico and winner of the Mont Ventoux challenge; just some results that the Russian can present with a great style of climbing.

The fact that it will be his first big round and that he was not very well known until this year, means that we still appoint him. Vlasov was also mentioned in our favorite lists for the mountain jersey, youth jersey and pink jersey. Conclusion: you can’t ignore the slender man from Vyborg for the next three weeks.

Aleksandr Vlasov, Russische diamant van Astana (photo: Sirotti)

Filippo Ganna – INEOS Grenadiers

Another man who, based on his performance in this corona year, can already be counted among the best in the world, but only looks out for his first trial in a three-week round. Filippo Ganna relegated the global cycling top to extras in the closing time trial of Tirreno-Adriatico and at the World Cup against the clock. The INEOS Grenadiers grenade turbo thighs get three time trials to shine in the Tour of Italy.

If this sweater doesn’t give Filippo Ganna wings, we won’t know either … (photo: Sirotti)

In the remaining eighteen stages, Ganna will have to do part of the work for his leader Geraint Thomas. The Welshman already described his teammate Tirreno-Adriatico as ‘formidable’. ‘With someone like Ganna in front of you, it’s really easy to stay out of harm’s way. He keeps on driving in the lead, until three kilometers before the finish. ‘

Davide Ballerini – Deceuninck-Quick-Step

Davide Ballerini is one of the guys who left the hole, by Italian classic toppers like Foo Pozzato and Alessandro Ballan, can fill up. The man from Lombardy is known for his unbridled appetite for attack, but can also gain weight. What’s hot, he won the final stage in the Tour of Poland this year ahead of Pascal Ackermann, among others. In addition, he became sixth (as lead-out) at the European championship and a photo finish had to be done at the Italian championship to determine that Giacomo Nizzolo was just ahead of him.

Actually, Ballerini would make an appearance in Italy as a sprint tractor for Fabio Jakobsen, but he is obviously not there due to his terrible accident. Álvaro José Hodeg has been placed on the start list by Deceuninck-Quick-Step, but for the Colombian it is only his first big round. In addition, the performances this year speak in favor of Ballerini, who also finished third in the Giro points classification two years ago.

Davide Ballerini, express train and diligent worker in Deceuninck-Quick-Step service (photo: Sirotti)

Tanel Kangert – EF Pro Cycling

The bonk from the Baltic states. Tanel Kangert has been a regular pawn in the big round work for years, but rarely gets the chance to go for their own chance. This year he looks set to become the forward man at EF Pro Cycling, which makes him an interesting option. This was the case for the last time in 2017, when Kangert’s free role went extremely well. Until he (after three top ten places) in the fifteenth stage in seventh place in the standings broke his half skeleton against a traffic sign.

In the youngest Tirreno-Adriatico, Kangert put the finishing touches to his Giro form, in the service of Michael Woods. The Canadian will not be there in the upcoming Giro, which means that Kangert will join Ruben Warrior the nice weather at EF Pro Cycling has to make as soon as it goes uphill (at the time of writing the official start list of his team is not known). In addition, the Estonian can also ride against the clock quite a bit, as evidenced by his fifth place in last year’s Giro time trial and seventh place at the 2019 World Championship time trial. All in all Kangert is a potential top ten customer that you easily overlooked.

The Haimar Zubeldia award could well go to Tanel Kangert this Giro (photo: Sirotti)

Andrea Vendrame – AG2R La Mondiale

He can climb well, is fast on the line and always driven: Andrea Vendrame has all the characteristics of a ride hijacker pur sang. A bit in line with that Diego Ulissi, which also appears at the start. The former rider of Androni Giocattoli will do everything he can to show the necessary at the highest level in his first year at the WorldTour. He has actually already done that, given his top twenty positions in Milan-Sanremo and Strade Bianche and several places of honor in smaller races.

Italian wine: Andrea Vendrame of AG2R La Mondiale (photo: Sirotti)

Vendrame is such a typical man who quietly wins more points every day for your pool. He will struggle to beat the top sprinters, just short of the punchy arrivals, but often takes top ten positions. The full free role at AG2R La Mondiale also speaks in favor of the 26-year-old Italian.

Fausto Masnada – Deceuninck-Quick-Step

Deceuninck-Quick-Step is betting on three horses in this mountainous Giro. João Almeida, James Knox in Fausto Masnada All three have shown high form in recent weeks / months, but based on experience, the Italian may be just a step ahead of his younger teammates.

Masnada, already a stage winner in the Giro last year, switched from the ailing CCC to Deceuninck-Quick-Step in the most recent summer and already managed to win sixth place in Tirreno-Adriatico on behalf of his new team. In addition, he was also at the World Cup with the better, although he is normally not a man for the one-day games. Like his teammate Ballerini, Masnada always has a natural urge to attack, which earned him second place in the mountains classification and fourth in the points classification last year.

Fausto Masnada showed all his excellent climbing legs in the Tirreno (photo: Sirotti)

Jai Hindley – Sunweb

At Sunweb, most eyes naturally focused on Michael Matthews, Wilco Kelderman and Sam Oomen. But also pay attention Jai Hindley, a young Australian who proved to be in no way inferior to his leaders in the youngest Tirreno-Adriatico. In the most important gauge of the Italian one-week race, the mountain stage to Sassotetto, 24-year-old Hindley finished eighth. Only eleven seconds behind Kelderman and more than 1.15 minutes ahead of Oomen.

Jai Hindley of Team Sunweb came eighth in the queen stage of the Tirreno (photo: Sirotti)

It is that Hindley missed the battle in the third stage that Woods won, otherwise he would have just finished in a good ninth place. The Sunweb talent also finished second in the Tour of Poland last year, where he showed his potential for the first time. If his team can build on the success of the Tour, this Hindley is undoubtedly one of the pawns responsible for it.

Josef Cerny – CCC

To get out of a sinking ship you need a lifeboat. Thus, the mindset of Josef Cerny are on the eve of the Giro, knowing that his team will stop after this year. For the Czech racer, the three-week round through Italy is the opportunity to market himself for any interested teams.

Cerny is a time trialist pur sang, but in the absence of a better sprinting teammate can also drive in the bunch sprints. Last year he managed to achieve sixth place in the final time trial and he was also present several times in the battle for place ten-fifteen in the sprints. Not a fat pot, but definitely worth a shot. The Czech himself has already ‘picked out some rides to show himself’, he says on the site of his team CCC.

Josef Cerny saw a good position at the World Championship time trial disappear due to bad luck, but that doesn’t make him any less dangerous in the Giro (photo: Sirotti)

Giovanni Visconti – Zábu-KTM wines

Traditionally, the Italian smaller formations are also back in the Giro. Androni Giocatolli, Bardiani and Vini Zabu send an entire army of Italian riders from the second line to Sicily. If you go through all those names like this, one of them will stand out: Giovanni Visconti. Two-time stage winner in the Giro, former mountain king and contemporary patron of the Italian national selections.

Giovanni Visconti, nestor of Italian cycling (photo: Sirotti)

In his old age, Visconti is now 37, he has lost some speed and climbing ability, but he is devious enough to lash out again if he is in the right flight. Even in the punchy rides you can still write down the veteran for a place of honor. No confidence in Visconti? Be sure to pay attention to his younger teammate, Lorenzo Rota.

Edoardo Affini – Mitchelton-Scott

What applied to Filippo Ganna also applies to a lesser extent Edoardo Affini. The Italian youngster showed his potential as a top time trial rider in recent months, which earned him a contract with Jumbo-Visma for the next three years. This Giro d’Italia he will want to give a farewell gift to his current formation Mitchelton-Scott by assisting Simon Yates as much as possible.

Affini is a blast in the short and medium time trials, as he proved particularly last year. At the European Championship in Alkmaar he flashed to bronze, to later claim a second and first place respectively in the BinckBanck Tour and the Tour of Britain. The fact that his leader Yates has to look for stage victories to rake in seconds and bonuses can play in the favor of Affini and his team points. Another teammate who can rake it in and drive a prize himself is Lucas Hamilton, although he will have to rely more on the climbing.

Edoardo Affini can prove this Giro why Jumbo-Visma wanted it so badly (photo: Sirotti)

Bonustip: Albert Torres – Movistar

We also come up with a bonus tip in the Giro d’Italia, namely Albert Torres. This Movistar man only turned pro this year at the age of 30, but he used to be a creditable track cyclist. The Spaniard became world champion team race once and did this trick twice at the European Championship.

Albert Torres in the first time trial of his professional career (photo: Sirotti)

Torres has been trying on the road since this year, and that is still good. In the Tour of Poland he reached the top ten twice, while also trying to throw himself in the Tirreno-Adriatico between the cannons in the flat stages. In addition, he attacked hilly terrain in the Brittany Classic, which shows that as a track cyclist he also knows how to drag himself over the hills. All in all, enough for his Movistar team to immediately throw him in front of the lions in a big round. In any case, we are curious! (photos: Sirotti)

Tom van der Salm | [email protected]

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