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Simon Yates is considering switching out the Giro d’Italia for the first time since 2017 as he takes aim at a possible tilt at the Tour de France, and a GC battle with Tadej Pogačar and Jonas Vingegaard.
Details of Yates’s 2023 calendar have yet to be finalized but the climber is leaning towards a shift in his targets.
The British climber has made the Giro d’Italia the focal point of his career since 2018 and racked up six stage wins, a podium place, and a long stint in the maglia rosa during his debut at the race. However, according to his BikeExchange management, the rider and his team believe it could be time to take on other goals.
“It’s been five years of preparation for the Giro for him,” his team boss Matt White told VeloNews.
“He’s definitely looking for a change. He’s had heartbreak and success there but he’s a racer and he likes going after other goals. When you have that focus on the Giro it does take you out of a lot of races that suit you, with races like Basque Country and Catalunya. The way that he’s prepared for the Giro, it does remove you from those other races,” White added.
“Nothing has been decided yet though. We still need to see the Tour route, and then sit down with all the stakeholders and decide on what’s best for Simon and the team. The Tour is one option on the table.”
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If Yates does skip the Giro d’Italia then the BikeExchange management has the important task of finding new objectives. With so few sprint stages on offer, the chances of seeing Dylan Groenewegen on the start list are slim to non-existent but the team has sent roster to three-week races and targeted breaks and stage wins before.
New signing Eddie Dunbar is also an option after the Irish climber joined the team ahead of next year. Dunbar found his grand tour chances at Ineos Grenadiers limited in the extreme but one possible scenario could see the Irish rider race the Giro and then back up Yates at the Tour de France.
“We’ll have to see,” said White. “We have some new acquisitions coming into the team now. What I can see from the Giro is that there’s a lot of stages for opportunists. So we have questions over who we take, which riders, if we’re doing GC, and who with. There are a lot of things to consider over the next period but I think we’ll figure it out pretty quick.”
“With Eddie Dunbar, one of the big reasons he came to the team was to have opportunities. He would probably put his hand up for a start at the Giro. As far as Michael Matthews goes, during his early career I used to always like taking him to the Giro because there are always stages for him. It’s a tricky balance though for a rider like him if he wants to do the Giro, Tour, and everything else in between.
“It’s been done before, so I like the Giro for him but it’s hard to do everything. The Worlds are just a few weeks after the Tour too, so that changes the preparation for those guys. I can say that Dylan won’t be on the start line, though. There’s not enough for the pure sprinters.”
The route for the 2023 Giro d’Italia was presented earlier this week with over 70km of time trialing contained in a map that also included seven summit finishes and a typically brutal final week of climbing.
White fully expects men’s world road race champion Remco Evenepoel to be on the start list, with Primož Roglič also in the mix.
“I bet my house that Evenepoel will be on the start line next year. I wouldn’t be surprised if we saw Roglič there too. His days of leading Jumbo at the Tour de France are probably over. He seems like a very ambitious guy, so I would think that he’d rather focus on the Giro or Vuelta than go do the Tour. And it’s a course that suits him,” White said.
“The Giro would love Evenepoel to be there. He’s the winner of the Vuelta, the world champion, and would bring the whole of the Belgian media with him. The Giro has brilliant riders every year but it’s different if it’s a mainstream European rider, it attracts more attention than a rider from Australia or South America. It would be a real coup for the Giro if he goes.”