Giro d’Italia: Five rising stars to have on your radar

GC chasers, climbing sensations and wingmen-de-luxe are among the five young debutants that could dazzle in this year's Giro.

Photo: Getty

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From Mathieu van der Poel and Magnus Cort to Biniam Girmay and Guillaume Martin, there are plenty of big names set to make Giro d’Italia debuts this week.

But you already know all about those guys.

So who are the rising stars you need to have on your Giro radar?

Also read:

From GC chasers to climbing sensations, there’s a host of new names that are set to make waves in their corsa rosa debuts. Here are our five up-and-comers worth watching for.

Thymen Arensman (Team DSM)

Arensman played superdomestique for Bardet at Tour of the Alps in a dry-run of their Giro roles. (Photo: Tim de Waele/Getty Images)

Age: 22
Third grand tour: Also raced 2020 and 2021 Vuelta

Both Team DSM and the Dutch crowd is hoping for big things from Thymen Arensman.

The long, lean Dutchman is set to play wingman number one for team captain Romain Bardet at this year’s Giro and looks poised to be a true superdomestique.

Bardet and Arensman tried a dry run of their Italian double-act at last month’s Tour of the Alps and hit one-three on the final podium. Add to that a breakout sixth-place finish at this spring’s Tirreno-Adriatico, and Arensman is carrying momentum into the Budapest “big start” this week.

“He’s one of the biggest talents I’ve ever seen in the sport,” Bardet said of his sidekick recently.

“We need to keep the pressure off him because he’s super young, but he can do super nice things in the future, including taking big, big wins … He has the mindset to be the next great champion.”

Arensman hit the podium in both of his first two grand tour appearances to date. Bardet expects more big things to come – they could well come this very month.

Ben Tulett (Ineos Grenadiers)

Tulett is one of Ineos’ ‘Class of ’22’ rising stars. (Photo: Dario Belingheri/Getty Images)

Age: 20
Grand tour debutant

That’s right, yet another of Ineos Grenadiers’ crew of fresh-faced stars-in-the-making.

British pocket-rocket Ben Tulett twice won the junior CX worlds before finding his road legs during a two-season shift at Alpecin-Fenix. The Belgian crew brought out the best in the young Brit, and he scored top 2o’s at La Flèche Wallonne and Amstel Gold Race, and 21st at Lombardia in his standout 2021 season.

Tulett was swiftly scooped up by Ineos Grenadiers, and became part of their “Class of ’22” alongside Luke Plapp, Magnus Sheffield and Ben Turner.

And like his newly signed classmates, Tulett hit the ground running this season, landing on the final podium at the Coppi e Bartali and winning a tough hilly stage along the way.

Dave Brailsford and Co. will be hoping Tulett’s young mountain legs last through to the Giro’s final week where they could prove pivotal in the Richard Carapaz’s push for pink. But if it doesn’t work out for Tulett this month, at just 20 years of age, he’ll have plenty more chances to come.

Félix Gall (Ag2r-Citroën)

Ag2r is Gall can go for a top-15 on GC … no pressure then (Photo: Gonzalo Arroyo Moreno/Getty Images)

Age: 24
Grand tour debutant

Because riding your first ever grand tour isn’t tough enough … Ag2r-Citroën has big plans for Austrian ace Félix Gall in his three-week debut.

“Félix has been the happy surprise for the start of the season for the team,” said sport director Laurent Biondi. “He has shown that he had great potential in stage races thanks to his good recovery qualities. He will be our sole leader for the general classification.”

Gall hasn’t yet hit on a big marquee win, but he’s never been far, either.

Fifth at Trofeo Pollenca behind Alejandro Valverde, 12th overall at Itzulia Basque Country, and fifth at Tour of the Alps so far this spring showed the 24-year-old has the legs to be up with the best.

The super sharp consistency that scored him four top-nine finishes in the Giro-heavy field of the Alps last month converted Gall’s potential into a ticket for Budapest.

Although Ag2r is throwing Gall into the GC cauldron at the first opportunity, the team is mindful not to set the heat too hot.

“This is his first grand tour and therefore his first experience of managing a three-week race,” Biondi said. “He will aim for a top-15 in the general classification and depending on the opportunities, a stage victory.”

Mattias Skjelmose (Trek-Segafredo)

The ice-cool and ever-consistent Skjelmose (Photo: David Ramos/Getty Images)

Age: 21
Grand tour debutant

If you recognize the name Mattias Skjelmose, it’s because you’ve likely seen it before.

The Danish all-rounder rode a breakout UAE Tour last year to finish sixth overall and punched onto the podium at the Tour de la Provence this winter.

Skjelmose clocked into the top-10 in five stage races in the past 18 months to mark himself as the “next big thing” of Danish cycling and a key component of team Trek-Segafredo’s climbing unit.

“I made a big step up between January last year and now. And now I want to finish this development, which does seem to be going the right way,” he told VeloNews earlier this year. “Any grand tour will be good for me, but I’m a guy who prefers the cold so I’ll hopefully go to the Giro,”

Trek-Segafredo will be relying on Skjelmose’s cold weather chops and ice-cool consistency to tow team leaders Giulio Ciccone and Bauke Mollema toward the top of GC this month.

Mauri Vansevenant (Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl)

Vansevenant is one of Quick-Step’s climbing crew and will be free to fly solo at the Giro. (Photo: Gonzalo Arroyo Moreno/Getty Images)

Age: 22
Second grand tour: Also raced 2021 Vuelta

Mauri Vansevenant climbs fast, and does it in a style that makes him stand out.

The all-elbows Belgian is one of the revelations of the recent climbing classics after winning last year’s GP Industria & Artigianato and finishing second behind Brandon McNulty at the Faun-Ardèche Classic this winter.

Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl is clustering around Mark Cavendish at this year’s Giro and sending a squad of strongmen to help him score in the sprints.

With that, Vansevenant will be unleashed to do his thing in the mountains, and will be shooting to go one better than the second-place he scored at last year’s Vuelta.

Vansevenant won a 14kg sausage at GP Industria & Artigianato last March and said it would last him all year.

It’s a shame Vansevenant couldn’t ration it a little longer – it will no doubt taste good with some Giro stage-winner’s prosecco.

And to satisfy your curiosity …. Here are some of the Giro debutants you will definitely have heard of before

Magnus Cort Nielsen (EF Education-Nippo) won stage 12 of the 2021 Vuelta a España.
After three Tours and four Vueltas, Cort finally makes his Giro debut. (Photo: Stuart Franklin/Getty Images)

Mathieu van der Poel (Alpecin-Fenix), 27, Netherlands:

Expect something special from Mathieu van der Poel this month, because where the Dutchman goes, fireworks tend to follow. , The Giro will be just his second grand tour after he led the Tour de France for six days last summer. Unlike last year’s Tour however, Van der Poel intends to complete this year’s Giro. Three full weeks of “MvdP”? Yes please.

Guillaume Martin (Cofidis), 28, France: 

France’s “other” GC guy after Thibaut Pinot and Romain Bardet is perhaps the most consistent of them all. Guillaume Martin finished top-15 of his past five grand tours and last year clawed his way up to second on GC at both the Tour and Vuelta before bombing back down the classification. A B-list contender for pink.

Biniam Girmay (Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert), 22, Eritrea: 

He was the star of the spring and the revelation of the 2021 road worlds. And now Biniam Girmay is going to make his grand tour debut at the Giro. The Eritrean wunderkind will have his chance to scrap with some of the world’s best sprinters this month – given his current trajectory, it’s hard to see him coming home empty-handed.

Lennard Kämna (Bora-Hansgrohe), 25, Germany:

Lennard Kämna has been away from grand tours for nearly two years, but the German sensation is likely to light up the Giro at some point. A stage win and three more top-6s from his two Tour de France starts show Kamna’s class, and he’s rolling toward the Giro with a free role and a hatful of top results already this year.

Magnus Cort (EF Education-EasyPost), 29, Denmark:

Magnus Cort knows his way around a grand tour. The Dane has already amassed seven three-weekers on his palmarès, and the same amount of stage wins. Cort was king of Spain at last year’s Vuelta with three stage victories and two very near-misses, and is likely to be toward the center of EF Education’s ambitions in Italy this month too.

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