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Simon Yates out to justify Giro d’Italia favourite tag and banish bad memories in process

Britain’s Simon Yates says he is hoping to have a “clear run” at the Giro d’Italia this year as he seeks to banish the memories of the last few years and justify his status as race favourite. Yates, who showed good form to win the recent Tour of the Alps, has been tipped by everyone from Alberto Contador to Bradley Wiggins to claim the maglia rosa this year. The 28 year-old from Bury is also favourite with the bookmakers, ahead of Ineos Grenadiers’ Egan Bernal and Deceuninck-QuickStep’s Remco Evenepoel. But the BikeExchange rider – a Vuelta a Espana winner in 2018 – has seemed reluctant to talk up his chances, knowing only too well how quickly fortunes can change in what is generally regarded as the least predictable of the three grand tours. In 2018, Yates led for over two weeks only to collapse spectacularly three days from the finish, with Chris Froome going on to take the pink jersey. In 2019, Yates began the race by publicly stating that he considered himself “the number one favourite”. But he was never at his best, eventually finishing eighth. Last year, at the rescheduled ‘autumn’ Giro, Yates was forced to abandon in the second week after contracting Covid-19, one of a number of positives in his Australian team which eventually forced them to retire en masse. “I’m hoping for a clear run this year,” Yates said. “Two years ago I made some mistakes in training beforehand, and I did too much too early in 2018. A guy can come from nowhere and win [it] as I know from personal experience.” One needs only look at last year’s extraordinary race to realise the truth of that statement. The eventual winner, Londoner Tao Geoghegan Hart, only got the opportunity to ride for himself after Ineos’ original leader Geraint Thomas crashed out. And Yates was not the only race favourite to contract Covid, with Steven Kruijswijk of Jumbo-Visma also falling victim. Geoghegan Hart took pink for the first time after the final stage. Little wonder pundits are reserving judgement this time around. “It’s difficult to choose just one favourite because of so much uncertainty,” Contador told Eurosport. “For now the only rider who has shown 100 per cent that he is in good shape is Yates after a great ride in the Tour of the Alps.” Wiggins, also speaking to Eurosport, said Yates was his favourite, too, but added that other young British riders such as Hugh Carthy (EF Education–Nippo), who finished on the podium at last year’s Vuelta a Espana, and James Knox, a team-mate of Evenepoel’s at Deceuninck-QuickStep, were also well capable of success. “This really is a race for those guys now,” Wiggins insisted. “Hugh was third in the Vuelta last year, Tao’s winning of the Giro last year… it really snowballs and success breeds success.” Ireland’s Dan Martin, who has Britain’s Alex Dowsett in his Israel-Start-Up Nation team, is also among the GC contenders. The race begins on Saturday with a short 8.6-kilometre time trial prologue in Turin. Evenepoel, the 21 year-old Belgian, will be among the favourites despite not having raced since last August. This year’s route takes in some Giro classics including the Zoncolan and the Gavia, as well as some gravel roads on stage 11, before a final day time trial in Milan. “I’m happy with my condition, but the Giro is a very different race,” Yates said of his form. “I will have to be careful, calm and cautious.”

About the author

Erin Clark

Erin is a sports enthusiast who loves indulging in occasional football matches. She is a passionate journalist who flaunts a perfect hold over the English language. She currently caters her skills for the sports and health section of Report Door.

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