Unsurprisingly, the Giro d’Italia been won predominantly by Italians, especially in its infant years. Starting in 1909, it wasn’t until 1954 that a rider from outside Italy wore the pink jersey. The rider to break the Italian reign was Swiss Hugo Koblet, who took the GC by over five minutes. Since then, many riders from across the world have secured this career-defining victory, but it still remains quintessentially an Italian race. Vincenzo Nibali was the last Italian to win this Grand Tour 10 years ago in 2013. The roll of honour includes legendary names like Alfredo Binda, Fausto Coppi, Gino Bartali, and Felice Gimondi, while more recent home winners include Damiano Cunego, Paolo Savoldelli, Ivan Basso, and Michele Scarponi – to name a few.
Nothing can quite beat winning on home soil, but winning a race that holds so much history in your country and prestige around the world must be second to none. Year in, year out riders born and bred in Italy travel to race the Giro, and this year is no different. This year 51 Italians will ride the Giro; we take a look at some of the home favourites for the 106th edition of the Giro d’Italia.
Filippo Ganna, Ineos Grenadiers
Luigi Ganna was the first-ever rider to step up onto the Giro d’Italia podium back in 1909. This year, his namesake Filippo Ganna will be on the start line for the third time at the season's opening Grand Tour.
The Ineos Grenadiers rider has had success at previous editions of the Giro with six stage wins, including five time trial stages, and two stints in the coveted pink jersey. Without doubt he is one of the strongest time trialists in the WorldTour and also holds the UCI Hour World Record.
He’ll be a key rider in the Ineos team for his TT abilities with this year’s Giro containing more than 70km of time trials in its parcours. However, Ganna has continually proven he is more than just a time trialist, and this year has clearly been putting in the work with regards to his stamina and climbing abilities. At the Vuelta a San Juan, he came second overall in the GC beating world champion Remco Evenepoel, who is favourite going into this year’s Giro. He also came second at Milan-Sanremo, 10th at E3 Saxo Classic and sixth at Paris-Roubaix.
Filippo Ganna at the summit of Alto del Colorado in the Vuelta a San Juan (Image by James Startt)
We know Ganna will be at home with the time trials of this Giro and this is almost certainly where he is guaranteed most success. The 26-year-old's other duty will be to safeguard his GC contenders. His Ineos team have a stellar pack of cards to play with Grand Tour winners Tao Geogenhart and Geraint Thomas in their line-up.
Damiano Caruso, Bahrain-Victorious
Damiano Caruso will be starting his 17th Grand Tour when he lines up for this year’s Giro d’Italia. His last appearance in the Italian Grand Tour was back in 2021, when he came a surprising second place behind Egan Bernal after winning the penultimate stage from Verbania to Alpe Motta with a late solo attack. Despite this being his favourite race in the calendar, last year he opted to race the Tour de France to support the GC chances of Jack Haig.
The 35-year-old will once again line-up to try and support the Australian Haig, who Caruso helped guide to a first Grand Tour podium at the Vuelta a España in 2021.
Caruso has so far this season raced Tirreno-Adriatico where he placed 14th, as well as finishing 10th in the Giro di Sicilia and seventh in the Ruta Del Sol.
Damiano Caruso during stage five of Tirreno-Adriatico (Image by SWPix.com)
Domenico Pozzovivo, Israel-Premier Tech
At 40-years-old, Domenico Pozzovivo will be the oldest rider taking part in this year’s Giro. Having only signed a contract with Israel-Premier Tech in early March, it seemed Pozzovivo might not have even made it to any races at all this year, but going into the Giro he’ll be leading any GC hopes the team may have.
Pozzovivo almost saw an end to his career when he wasn't handed a new contract with his then team Intermarché-Circus-Wanty. Not yet finished, he continued to train privately and managed to salvage his career with Israel-Premier Tech.
Having turned professional in 2005, Pozzovivo will be going into his 24th Grand Tour. He’s had a rocky road with the Giro d’Italia and on many occasions he has not even finished the race. Then on the other hand, he has had seven top-10 finishes, including last year when he placed eighth overall. His last stage win at the Giro was back in 2012. We didn’t think he could secure another contract for 2023, so might he surprise us at the Giro? Only time will tell.
Tour of the Alps was Domenico Pozzovivo's first race for his new team Israel-Premier Tech (Image by Getty Images)
Diego Ulissi, UAE Team Emirates
Diego Ulissi won stage four of the Tour of Oman this year (Image by Getty Images)
Diego Ulissi has had one of the best track records going into this year's Giro. He's previously managed to win eight stages here and had 18 top-10 finishes. That's not a surprise considering he's only raced the Tour and Vuelta once each in his his 12 year career, instead opting for his home roads every year. Ulissi opened his season in Spain for UAE Team Emirates before racing in the Tour of Oman where he secured his first victory of the season. He's a rider that packs a punch when it comes to steep ascents and can also put in a good sprint in a reduced bunch, so he'll have a number of opportunities in the first two weeks to go for a stage win in this year's edition.
Alberto Bettiol, EF Education-EasyPost
Tuscan Bettiol will be riding his third Giro this year, but he remains unpredictable by his nature. A strong rouleur, Bettiol is capable of powerful solo breaks over gruelling terrain, as he proved when he won the long 231km stage to Stradella in 2021 as well as in his crowning glory at the Tour of Flanders in 2019.
His four career victories almost certainly belies his talent, but the 29-year-old will still be a strong contender for victory should he make it into key breakaways.
Bettiol will be eyeing a second career stage win at the Giro (SWPix)
EF Education-EasyPost this year look to combine a strong GC campaign led by Hugh Carthy and Rigoberto Uràn with the hunt for stage wins, where Ben Healy, Jonathan Caicedo, Magnus Cort, and Bettiol all have the capabilities to secure a win.
Italian riders at the 2023 Giro d'Italia
Domenico Pozzovivo (Israel-Premier Tech)
Alessandro De Marchi (Israel-Premier Tech)
Marco Frigo (Israel-Premier Tech)
Francesco Gavazzi (Eolo-Kometa)
Mirco Maestri (Eolo-Kometa)
Lorenzo Fortunato (Eolo-Kometa)
Mattia Bais (Eolo-Kometa)
Vincenzo Albanese (Eolo-Kometa)
Davide Bais (Eolo-Kometa)
Damiano Caruso (Bahrain-Victorious)
Andrea Pasqualon (Bahrain-Victorious)
Jonathan Milan (Bahrain-Victorious)
Edoardo Zambanini (Bahrain-Victorious)
Alessandro Verre (Arkéa-Samsic)
Diego Ulissi (UAE Team Emirates)
Davide Formolo (UAE Team Emirates)
Alessandro Covi (UAE Team Emirates)
Davide Cimolai (Cofidis)
Simone Consonni (Cofidis)
Salvatore Puccio (Ineos Grenadiers)
Filippo Ganna (Ineos Grenadiers)
Kristian Sbaragli (Alpecin-Deceuninck)
Nicola Conci (Alpecin-Deceuninck)
Stefano Oldani (Alpecin-Deceuninck)
Mattia Cattaneo (Soudal - Quick-Step)
Davide Ballerini (Soudal - Quick-Step)
Alberto Dainese (Team DSM)
Alessandro Tonelli (Green Project-Bardiani CSF-Faizanè)
Davide Gabburo (Green Project-Bardiani CSF-Faizanè)
Filippo Fiorelli (Green Project-Bardiani CSF-Faizanè)
Filippo Magli (Green Project-Bardiani CSF-Faizanè)
Martin Marcellusi (Green Project-Bardiani CSF-Faizanè)
Luca Covili (Green Project-Bardiani CSF-Faizanè)
Samuele Zoccarato (Green Project-Bardiani CSF-Faizanè)
Valerio Conti (Team Corratec - Selle Italia)
Nicolas Dalla Valle (Team Corratec - Selle Italia)
Stefano Gandin (Team Corratec - Selle Italia)
Alessandro Iacchi (Team Corratec - Selle Italia)
Alexander Konychev (Team Corratec - Selle Italia)
Simone Petilli (Intermarché - Circus - Wanty)
Niccolò Bonifazio (Intermarché - Circus - Wanty)
Lorenzo Rota (Intermarché - Circus - Wanty)
Alberto Bettiol (EF Education - EasyPost)
Gianni Moscon (Astana Qazaqstan)
Simone Velasco (Astana Qazaqstan)
Samuele Battistella (Astana Qazaqstan)
Christian Scaroni (Astana Qazaqstan)
Andrea Vendrame (Ag2r Citroën Team)
Edoardo Affini (Jumbo-Visma)
Filippo Zana (Jayco-Alula)
Giovanni Aleotti (Bora-Hansgrohe)
*Cover image by SWPix