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Giro di Sicilia 2021, generations compared

27/09/2021

As the season is almost over, the riders may have the chance either to confirm a successful year, or to try to bounce back here in Sicily. These being the last racing weeks, however, it’s not easy to separate the favourites. Some are taking the start to honour their commitment to their teams, despite not being in their best competitive form. Others, conversely, are still fresh and strong enough to do battle.

Although there is no clear favourite to win the 2021 Giro di Sicilia, our top pick couldn’t be anyone but Vincenzo Nibali, the local hero, the Shark from the Messina Strait. Having just signed with Astana for the coming year, he will probably be riding with a light heart. However, we are sure he will spare no effort to honour the Trek-Segafredo jersey, and even more so on home court. After a contrasting first part of the season, the two-time winner of the Giro d’Italia came back in quite good shape at the Tour de Luxembourg, and he will try to return to victory in Sicily after a long time – over two years now.

Alejandro Valverde and Chris Froome, his longtime opponents, are all set to battle him out. Coming back to racing after suffering a collarbone fracture at the Vuelta a España, the 41-year old Spaniard (Movistar) is willing to prove that throwing in the towel is not an option yet. Knowing him, and considering that he has hit the podium quite consistently this year, even in the most prestigious races of the calendar, we wouldn’t be surprised to see him fight for victory. Chris Froome, on the other hand, apparently hasn’t fully recovered to the level he was prior to his crash in 2018, but hope is the last thing that is lost. It would be awesome to see the ‘White Kenyan’ end the year on a high note along the roads of Sicily. His arrival at Israel Start-Up Nation has offered him new incentive. Not many riders in the peloton have the same grit and temper as him, and the Brit will go all the way to try getting back to his former glory – that’s for sure.

Romain Bardet, for his part, will try to overcome the disappointment for missing out on the selection for the world championships. The Frenchman, riding for Team DSM, always gives all he has in all the races he enters, and most certainly he will be playing offense at the Giro di Sicilia as well. The defending champion, Brandon McNulty, has shown real talent in spurts, but he is yet to return to winning since he last did in 2019, when he was riding for Rally Cycling. His compatriot and teammate Joe Dombrowski, stage winner in Sestola at the Giro this year, is worth keeping a close eye on. And so are David De La Cruz, who will be racing one of his final events with UAE Team Emirates before joining Movistar, and Marc Soler, who will go the opposite way, leaving Spain and heading for the Arab Emirates. Movistar’s talented climbers Einer Rubio and Antonio Pedrero also deserve special attention.

Many other names should also be considered in the fight for GC, starting with more experienced riders such as James Piccoli (Israel Start-Up Nation), Gavin Mannion (Rally Cycling), Mikel Bizkarra (Euskaltel Euskadi) and Eduardo Sepulveda (Androni-Sidermec), up to the youngest ones, such as Lorenzo Fortunato (Eolo-Kometa), who conquered the Zoncolan at the Giro, Mattias Skjelmose (Trek-Segafredo) and Alessandro Covi (UAE Team Emirates).

As it happened in 2019, the Giro di Sicilia will be a perfect showcase for many emerging young riders, such as Asbjorn Hellemose (Trek-Segafredo), Andreas Leknessund (Team DSM), Luca Colnaghi (Bardiani-CSF-Faizanè) and Cristian Scaroni (Gazprom-Rusvelo).

The first two stages will be a sprinters’ thing, so all eyes will be on Jakub Mareczko (Vini Zabù), Juan Sebastian Molano (UAE Team Emirates), Filippo Fiorelli (Bardiani-CSF-Faizanè, from Palermo), Manuel Belletti (Eolo-Kometa), who won a stage in Palermo back in 2019, Davide Appollonio (Amore&Vita-Prodir), Andrea Guardini (Giotti Victoria – Savini Due), Simone Velasco (Gazprom-Rusvelo) and Michele Gazzoli (Colpack Ballan).

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