Juan Pedro Lopez (Trek Segafredo)
This certainly is the most controversial pick. Here’s my logic: Giulio Ciccone hasn’t finished a Grand Tour (GT) in nearly 3 years. Bauke Mollema hasn’t competed for the general classification (GC) of a GT in exactly 3 years. I think both of these riders will fight for objectives other than GC in the 2022 Giro. Or, even if they start out looking for GC goals, I believe they will quickly realize they won’t be able to achieve much in GC and switch their focus. Lopez will thus have some freedom to pursue individual goals.
As a young rider trying to improve his status within the team and the whole peloton, he has an incentive to stay near the front on mountain stages which might be enough to sneak into the top-10. Ciccone and Mollema will focus on stage wins and maybe the mountains’ jersey which likely will preclude the Spanish rider from having the same liberties. Thus, staying with the favorites as long as possible on the mountains will likely be his main goal.
Hugh Carthy (EF Education EasyPost)
I speak against myself here, but the rest of the list is going to be pretty boring. I already got my surprise pick in, so I’m trying to get the rest of these right. Hugh Carthy was 8th in this race last year and will look to repeat that performance in 2022. It’s unlikely he will ever repeat his podium place of the 2020 Vuelta, but a top-10 is probably within his reach.
Wilco Kelderman (Bora Hansgrohe)
Kelderman will choke if he’s handed the maglia rosa on a silver platter, but few are better when it comes to finishing in the top-10. His teammates Emmanuel Buchmann and Jai Hindley need to prove they are back to their highest level before I back them in a GT. Kelderman seems to always consistently be at that high level. Maybe not high enough to win a GT, but definitely high enough to finish in the top-10.
Pello Bilbao (Bahrain Victorious)
Few riders are given as much respect as Mikel Landa for having done so little. Landa is Kelderman with 4 GT stage wins. Landa couldn’t even trap Sastre’s boots before Sastre won the Tour. And Carlos Sastre was largely disrespected before and after his Tour win. But for some reason Landa is treated like a perennial GT contender when he peaked as a fringe podium challenger. He hasn’t been relevant in GTs in two years and he likely won’t be here either. Bilbao is constantly overlooked, on the other hand, despite recently having been a way more productive rider than Landa. He’s coming off two top-5 GC places in the Vuelta a Catalunya and the Tour of the Alps, so he certainly has the form to finish the Giro as one of the ten best riders of the competition.
Romain Bardet (Team DSM)
He probably won’t fulfill the dreams of the French people by winning the Tour or any GT for that matter. But he still is an excellent rider that is almost a lock to finish in the top-10 (he was 7th last year). He has an outside shot at the podium. Bardet just won’t the Tour of the Alps and recently stated that the Giro is the best GT for his skillset. Expect a great ride from the Frenchman over the next 3 weeks.
Tom Dumoulin (Jumbo Visma)
I’m taking a risk here. It is very likely that Dumoulin won’t be able to keep a high level for 3 weeks. He has no results in 2022 that support a good performance in the Giro. His last good GT performance was nearly two years ago. But he is one of those rare talents that I don’t like to bet against. Even if he doesn’t get in the podium of the Giro I think a top-10 place in GC at the end of the race will be a massive win for him. It will provide a base for him to work over for the rest of 2022 and 2023. Which is why I don’t think he’ll quit if he’s not fighting for the maglia rosa or the podium. And that’s why he’ll finish in the top-10.
Miguel Angel Lopez (Astana)
Now we’re getting to the riders that are a cut above. With so few time trial kilometers, Lopez is a contender for the podium. He won the queen stage of last year’s Vuelta a España and was going to finish in the podium before a freak breakaway happened and derailed his Movistar career. He just won a summit finish in the Tour of the Alps. He’s back to Astana, the team where he had the brightest moments of his career. The stage is set for him to shine in the Giro once again.
João Almeida (UAE Team Emirates)
What benefits Lopez hurts Almeida. The Portuguese and Dumoulin are the bet time trialists among the contenders, so the mere 26km of time trial aren’t to their liking at all. With that being said, after Quick Step got their heads out of their asses last year with their Evenepoel delusion, João Almeida actually made time on Egan Bernal on his way to finishing 6th, after a spectacular recovery. I don’t remember if he actually made time on Bernal or if he was one of the few that didn’t lose time to the Colombian after a certain point in the race. My point is: had it not been for Quick Step’s delusion Almeida might have fought for the maglia rosa or, at the very least, the podium.
Now he is a team leader for the first time in his career. If he manages to eliminate his tactical mistakes (that already cost him the Paris Nice and the Vuelta a Catalunya this year) he is perhaps the strongest rider on the start list. He hasn’t shown yet that he can, though, so I’ll keep him in 3rd.
Simon Yates (Team BikeExchange)
Mr. BikeExchange once again doesn’t have a team. He probably doesn’t even have a team as strong as last year’s. And that’s saying something. I probably would pick him to win it all were it not for the difference in quality between BikeExchange and Ineos. The British rider is coming off two stage wins out of three total stages in the Vuelta as Asturias, which highlights his good form. In the end though, Richie Porte + Pavel Sivakov >>> Lucas Hamilton + Lawson Craddock.
Richard Carapaz (Ineos Grenadiers)
After his surprising victory in the 2019 Giro and the switch to Ineos in 2020, he already placed on the podiums of the Tour and Vuelta with the British team in 2021 and 2020, respectively. Plenty doubted his move to the British outfit but after Chris Froome’s and Gerraint Thomas’ declines, Tao Geoghegan Hart’s lack of recent form, and Egan Bernal’s struggles after winning the Tour and subsequent injury, Carapaz has often been the rock keeping Ineos competitive. I consider him the favorite to win the 2022 Giro d’Italia. I thought they would bring a slightly stronger team in support of the Ecuatorian, but this is simply because of Ineos’ ridiculously strong team. The riders they brought to this Giro should be enough to leave the maglia rosa fight 100% to Carapaz’s ability.