How to Watch the Giro D’Italia—and Everything Else You Need to Know
Two favorites, three time trials, and lots of mountains (as usual) headline the 2023 Tour of Italy.
It’s May, which means it’s time for one of the sport’s hardest races in one of the world’s most beautiful locations: the Giro d’Italia, the first of pro cycling’s trifecta of three-week “grand tours.” While not as prestigious as the Tour de France, the Tour of Italy is considered by many to be the hardest grand tour of the season, a race that boasts high mountains, stunning scenery, and the maglia rosa, a pink jersey awarded each day to the leader of the Giro’s General Classification.
Here’s everything you need to know about this year’s race:
Saturday, May 6 - Sunday, May 28
How to Watch
A subscription to GCN+ ($8.99/monthly or $49.99/yearly) gets you the entire Giro d’Italia, both live and on-demand via the web, the GCN+ iOS app, and the GCN app for Amazon FireTV, Roku, and Apple TV.
You could cancel your monthly subscription at the end of the race, but GCN+ also offers live streams of many more road races throughout the summer and cyclocross throughout the fall and winter, which makes the $49.99 annual subscription a terrific value for fans in search of a reliable (and legal) way to stream many of the season’s best events.
The 106th edition of the Giro d’Italia covers 3,448.6 kilometers (2,138 miles) over 21 stages, with three individual time trials, seven mountain stages (all of which end with uphill finishes), four “intermediate” stages that look perfect for breakaways, and eight stages that should end with field sprints.
This year’s Grande Partenza takes place in the Abruzzo region with an 18.4K individual time trial (Stage 1) on Saturday followed by what should be the Giro’s first field sprint on Sunday (Stage 2). The race then heads south as it begins a tight clockwise loop through the southern half of the country with Stages 4 through 6 ending in Melfi (an ideal day for a breakaway), Lago Laceno (a trip through the Apennines that ends with the Giro’s first uphill finish), and Salerno and Naples (likely field sprints).
Stage 7 brings the Giro’s first true mountain stage, with a summit finish on the 2,135-meter Gran Sasso Italia. While too early to determine the Giro’s final outcome, this should force the first true sorting of the General Classification, setting the stage for Saturday’s tough stage to Fossombrone (Stage 8), a day filled with several super-steep climbs called muri (Italian for “walls”). The first “week” ends with the Giro’s first long, individual time trial (Stage 9), a 33.6K race against the clock between Savignano al Rubicone and Cesena. By the end of the day Sunday, the Giro’s true contenders will have emerged.
After a Rest Day on Monday, May 15th, the Giro’s second week opens with two days for field sprinters with stages ending in Viareggio (Stage 10) and Tortona (Stage 11). Thursday’s ride from Bra to Rivoli (Stage 12) offers an undulating profile with a big climb in the final hour; it’s the perfect opportunity for a large breakaway to escape and fight for the stage win.
Friday’s Stage 13 brings the race into Switzerland, with a monster Alpine stage that tackles the 34K Colle del Gran San Bernardo on its way to a summit finish in Crans Montana. The summit of the San Bernardo sits at 2469m above sea level, which makes it the Cima Coppi, the highest climb in this year’s race. The sprinters get another chance in Cassano Magnago on Saturday (Stage 14), while Sunday’s Stage 15 tackles a punchy circuit through the hills around Bergamo that could prove to be one of the most exciting in this year’s race.
The third week is the most mountainous of the entire Giro, with four stages through the Alps and Dolomites, three of which feature uphill or summit finishes. Of these, Stage 19 is the toughest: a mountain raid through the Dolomites that finishes atop the Tre Cime di Lavaredo, the place where Eddy Merckx took control of the 1968 Giro d’Italia, setting the stage for the first of his many grand tour victories.
Stage 20 brings the Giro’s final individual time trial, a 18.6K ride that starts in Tarvisio and ends with a climb to the sanctuary atop Monte Lussari. Whoever ends the day Saturday in the maglia rosa will spend Sunday’s final stage into Rome celebrating his overall victory–while the sprinters relish one final chance to win a stage.
What Happened Last Year
Jai Hindley (BORA-hansgrohe) won the 105th edition of the Giro d’Italia. The Australian won Stage 9 atop the Blockhaus climb and then spent the rest of the race hovering near the top of the General Classification–without ever taking the pink jersey. But on Stage 20, the Giro’s final mountain stage, he pounced.
Hindley entered the day just 3 seconds behind Ecuador’s Richard Carapaz (INEOS Grenadiers)–who had worn the pink jersey since Stage 14–but timed his attack perfectly, teaming up with a teammate who had dropped back from the breakaway and then dropping the 2019 Giro champion about 3K from the summit of the Passo Fedaia and taking the pink jersey. The Aussie entered Stage 21’s individual time trial with a 1:25 advantage over the Ecuadoran, which proved to be more than enough to become his nation’s first Giro champion.
Carapaz held on to finish second, and Spain’s Mikel Landa (Bahrain-Victorious) finished third. France’s Arnaud Demare (Groupama-FDJ) won the Points Classification, the Netherlands’ Koen Bouwman (Jumbo-Visma) won the King of the Mountains Classification, and Spain’s Juan Pedro López–who wore the pink jersey for 10 stages in the middle of the race–was the Giro’s Best Young Rider.
Riders to Watch
Hindley won’t be back to defend his title–he’s racing the Tour de France instead–so this year’s top favorites are two riders hoping to put some of their worst Giro memories behind them: Slovenia’s Primož Roglič (Jumbo-Visma) and Belgium’s Remco Evenepoel (Soudal-Quick Step). Roglič led the Giro for six days back in 2019, but ultimately lost the race to Carapaz after fading in the mountains. Evenepoel made his grand tour debut in 2021 and looked to be a contender during the opening week. But the Belgian lost 24 minutes on Stage 16 and abandoned the race after Stage 17.
But since those set-backs, they’ve combined to win the last four Tours of Spain (Roglič in 2019, 2020, and 2021; and Evenepoel in 2022) and as two of the sport’s best time trialists, are likely licking their lips at the Giro’s three ITTs. And we’re expecting fireworks: the duo last raced against one another at the 7-day Volta a Catalunya in March, with Roglič defeating Evenepoel by just six seconds. Glued to one another’s wheels throughout much of the Spanish WorldTour event, they finished 1-2 on four occasions throughout the week, with each winning two stages.
It’s tough to pick the true favorite. Roglič is a proven grand tour contender (he has podium finishes in all three grand tours) and he races for a team that’s experienced and talented. Evenepoel is younger and seems to raise the ceiling on his talent every time he races, but despite winning last year’s Tour of Spain, his team is still learning the ropes when it comes to supporting a rider who’s trying to win a grand tour–and the winning the Giro is much more challenging than winning the Vuelta.
Assuming they avoid crashes and bad luck, we suspect the two will trade blows with one another throughout the race, with Evenepoel having a slight edge in the time trials and Roglič a slight edge in the high mountains (thanks largely to the depth of his team). In the end we won’t be surprised if they stay within half a minute of one another by the time the race concludes in Rome, with the winner being whichever rider is willing to take a few chances without the fear of losing it all.
The wild card has to be INEOS Grenadiers (formerly Team Sky), a team which has won three of the last five Tours of Italy, and came close to winning another last year. Carapaz now races for EF Education-EasyPost and Colombia’s Egan Bernal, who won the race in 2021, is still recovering from a crash in early 2022 that almost ended his career. So the team will be relying on Great Britain’s Geraint Thomas (the 2018 Tour de France champion) and Tao Geoghegan Hart (winner of the 2020 Giro d’Italia). Thomas hasn’t had great luck at the Giro (he’s never finished it) and Geoghegan Hart has yet to prove that his victory in 2020 (a season shortened due to Covid-19) was not a fluke, but together they could relish being the outsider’s, supported by a team that might be the strongest in the race.
Other podium contenders include Italy’s Damiano Caruso (Bahrain-Victorious), the runner-up in 2021; Russia’s Aleksandr Vlasov (BORA-hansgrohe), who finished fourth in 2021; and Portugal’s Joao Almeida (UAE Team Emirates), who took fourth in 2020 and sixth in 2021.
Looking beyond the General Classification, Great Britain’s Mark Cavendish (Astana) makes his grand tour debut with his new team, hoping to challenge for a stage win or two while preparing himself to try and break Eddy Merck’s stage win record at the Tour de France in July. At the Giro he’ll face challenges from Colombia’s Fernando Gaviria (Movistar), Australia’s Michael Matthews, and Germany’s Pascal Ackerman (UAE Team Emirates).
Last but not least, the 2023 Giro should feature several North Americans, including the USA’s Sepp Kuss (Jumbo-Visma), a recent call-up to support Roglič; Joe Dombrowski (Astana), who’s chasing stage wins; domestiques Will Barta (Movistar), Larry Warbasse (AG2R Citroën), and Brandon McNulty (UAE Team Emirates); and Matt Riccitello (Israel-Premier Tech), who’s riding his first grand tour. Riccitello’s teammate, Derek Gee, is the only rider from Canada slated to start this year’s race.
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