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Giro Next Gen, fancy rendezvous for the world’s best U23s


The Giro Next Gen can either produce one of those talents that the whole world of cycling is waiting for, or a kid looking for a chance to show his qualities. And this is what makes it an unmissable competition: when youngsters in their early twenties, many of whom not yet fully formed, face each other, surprises are around every corner.

Jumbo-Visma Development, for instance, will tackle the race with a team whose value is already well established, featuring the Norwegian Johannes Staune-Mittet, second at the Tour de l’Avenir last year as well as winner of the Tour of Belvedere this year, or his compatriot Per Strand Hagenes, who has also already won among the pros and is equally talented on all terrains. And let’s not forget Tijmen Graat, who won the GP Palio del Recioto and has a bright future in stage racing.

Then there’s William Junior Lecerf (Soudal-QuickStep Devo), who finished 4th last year and this season came 3rd in the Tour du Rwanda among the pros, Hannes Wilksch (Tudor U23), 7th in both the Giro and the Tour de l’Avenir in 2022, Lukas Nerurkar and Finlay Pickering (Trinity Racing), skilled British climbers who have already shown their mettle several times. António Morgado (Hagens Berman Axeon), born in 2004, deserves a separate chapter. This guy is a true rising star of world cycling, he was the talk of the town last year among the juniors, and this year this Portuguese kid does not seem to have suffered much from the category jump, as he won the Tour of Rhodes as well as a stage at the Nations Cup. Axel Merckx’s American team won the overall last year with Hayter and will certainly try again this year, not only with Morgado, but also with the solid Irishman Darren Rafferty.

However, never before have the Italian teams seemed to be as fierce as this year: Green Project-Bardiani CSF-Faizanè is fielding an ultra-competitive line-up, with Alessio Martinelli, Giulio Pellizzari, Alessandro Pinarello, and Matteo Scalco, all athletes to be kept an eye on. Some for stage victories, some to try and hold their own in the GC, the Italian options are plenty; definitely worth mentioning are Francesco Busatto (Circus-ReUz-Technord), winner of the Liège-Bastogne-Liège U23, Davide De Pretto (Zalf Euromobil Fior), who has placed in just about every race this year, Sergio Meris (Colpack Ballan) and Giacomo Villa (Biesse-Carrera), winner of the Trofeo Piva.

In view of the general classification, and in particular the Stelvio finish, great expectations are also placed on Colombians Santiago Umba and Germán Gómez (GW Shimano-Sidermec), while Jordan Labrosse (AG2R Citroën U23), Thibaud Gruel (Groupama-FDJ), Ramses Debruyne (Lotto Dstny Development) and Vlad Van Mechelen (Devo Team DSM) should not be underestimated either. Several stage hunters are also in the mix, with the talented Lotto Dstny squad also featuring Gianluca Pollefliet, Tijl De Decker and Alec Segaert, as well as Alexander Hajek (Tirol KTM), Luke Lamperti (Trinity Racing), Tim Torn Teutenberg (Leopard TOGT) and Gil Gelders (Soudal-QuickStep Devo), winner of a stage last year, Davide Persico (Colpack Ballan), Anders Foldager (Biesse-Carrera), Roel Van Sintmaartensdijk (Circus-ReUz-Technord), Giosuè Epis (Zal Euromobil Fior), Alberto Bruttomesso (Cycling Team Friuli), first Maglia Rosa in 2022, and Davide Dapporto (Team Technipes #inEmiliaRomagna).


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