Aleksandr Vlasov will take on a prestigious task at the Giro d’Italia 2023. Yet, one that may turn out to be quite tricky at the end of the day. It will be required to defend what Jai Hindley did so extraordinarily well last year, namely to win the Maglia Rosa and raise the Trofeo Senza Fine to the sky. Bora-hansgrohe will rely on the Russian to attempt the difficult feat of keeping the Pink at home.
On reflection, however, Hindley was not among last year’s favourites either, but as the days went by his odds rose dramatically, until that unforgettable action on the Marmolada that gave him the best day of his career. The German team’s hope is therefore to emulate the good things done last year, with Vlasov as their main man.
Compared to the Australian, the Russian born in 1996 is certainly more solid in time trials (and he will need to be, given the many kilometres against the clock), but at the same time he does not seem to have the same explosiveness and resilience on big climbs. Vlasov is a rider whose main characteristic is consistency: in 2021 he finished 4th in the Giro but was never really in contention for the podium and finished 6’40” behind winner Egan Bernal. It was a very similar epilogue to last year’s Tour de France, in which he finished 5th, a good 15’46” behind Jonas Vingegaard, who really seemed to be doing another sport back then. Therefore, the former Astana rider will have to show a version of himself that so far, at least in Grand Tours, he has failed to exhibit.
His start to the season was actually quite good, with 5th place at the Volta Valenciana and 9th at Tirreno-Adriatico in his first two races of the year. At the recent Tour of the Alps, however, he was fighting for a Top 5 finish, but withdrew before the last stage, heading to Wallonia for Liège-Bastogne-Liège, where he worked hard for his teammates.
Alongside him Bora-hansgrohe will feature the always reliable Lennard Kämna, who has already stated he will try to go for GC as well. This might give the team an interesting tactical weapon. Interestingly enough, the German has performed even better than Vlasov so far in the season, as he finished 4th in the Tirreno-Adriatico, after wearing the Maglia Azzurra as GC leader, and 6th in the Tour of the Alps, with a stage victory as well. Last year he won on Mount Etna, this year he looks even hungrier. Bottom line: watch out for those two!