Five things we learned from the 2023 Giro d'Italia

Now it's all over and the dust has pretty much settled, what did this year's bella corsa teach us?

Primox Roglic with Giro d'Italia trophy
(Image credit: Getty)

1. There's life in Primož Roglič yet

Giro d'Italia time trial

(Image credit: Tim De Waele)

"The older I get, the better I get," said Primož Roglič after winning the race in Rome on Sunday, and at 33 there is surely plenty more to come from the Slovenian. 

Circumstances have conspired on twin fronts against him in recent years. Perhaps most obviously in the form of bad luck, which seems to dog him relentlessly in the Grand Tours, but also in the form of his younger Jumbo-Vismateam-mate Jonas Vingegaard, who already at 25 years old had achieved the Tour de  France win that Roglic had been trying for for years.

But this year's Giro was a timely reminder of what the Slovenian is capable of when the stars align – or even when they're slightly off-kilter (don't forget his multiple crashes early in the race, and then a dropped chain in the time trial).

He should be a force to be reckoned with for seasons to come and this win will only inspire confidence.

2. João Almeida is a Grand Tour winner in the making

Final Podium

(Image credit: Tim De Waele / Getty Images)

Still just 24, João Almeida became the first ever Portuguese rider to finish on the Giro d'Italia podium on Sunday, taking the young rider's white jersey with him too.

Of the five Grand Tours he has ridden in his relatively short career, this was his best finish. In fact he has never finished outside the top six, a DNF in last year's Giro notwithstanding.

A podium finish, particularly in a race as difficult as this year's Giro, marks a step up for the UAE Team Emirates rider and is liable to spur him on to greater future achievements. The question is, when will we see him in the Tour de France?

3. Friends will be friends, even in elite sport

Geraint Thomas

(Image credit: Stuart Franklin / Getty Images)

For many British fans especially, for whom Geraint Thomas and Mark Cavendish have played a key part in the narrative of their love of cycling, watching the Ineos Grenadiers rider beckon on Cavendish as the speeding bunch hit the penultimate kilometre into Rome and give the Manxman and his team-mate Luis León Sánchez an armchair ride towards the flamme rouge, was one of the highlights of the race.

Particularly given that Thomas was still reeling from having been so close to overall victory the day before, only to have it lifted from his shoulders in the most agonising way by Primož Roglič. And particularly given that Thomas's lead-out went on to yield the final stage victory that Cavendish and his fans had longed for with ever-decreasing opportunities for success.

"I thought, 'help a brother out'," said Thomas afterwards. He certainly did.

4. Time trials can be (very) exciting

Stage 20 time trial

(Image credit: Stuart Franklin / Getty Images)

For many Grand Tour fans, if there's one stage you need to miss in order to do the weekly shop / get the car fixed / get a haircut, it's going to be the time trial. But throw in the right amount of jeopardy on the right terrain in the right surroundings, and you have yourself a stage that you'd rather have an empty fridge, no car and a bird's nest on your head than forgo.

That is no doubt precisely what the Giro's organisers were hoping for when they designed Saturday's 18.6km test to Monte Lussari, and by various strokes of mis/fortune, it was exactly what they got.

Unfortunately it was always going to be an excruciating way to concede the Giro for one rider, especially on such a punishing climb as Lussari. But while Thomas had to lose, who would begrudge Primož Roglič that win?

Week-three mountain time trials: they're the way forward.

5. Remco Evenepoel is only human. Or is he?

stage nine time trial

(Image credit: Jasper Jacobs / Getty Images)

Spoiler: he is, of course, only human. However, the way he won the 35km stage nine time trial to take the maglia rosa – while in the grip of covid, no less – should send chills down the spine of any rider hoping to win a Grand Tour in the next, let's see… 10 years?

Had Evenepoel not been exposed to our nasty little viral friend, the race would have almost certainly played out differently. Of course, as we all know, bike racing is about luck as much as judgement, so Remco's DNF shouldn't detract at all from Roglič's eventual win. But the Slovenian, along with all the other Grand Tour supremos, must be asking themselves what happens next time, when luck is on Evenepoel's side.

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After cutting his teeth on local and national newspapers, James began at Cycling Weekly as a sub-editor in 2000 when the current office was literally all fields. 

Eventually becoming chief sub-editor, in 2016 he switched to the job of full-time writer, and covers news, racing and features.

A lifelong cyclist and cycling fan, James's racing days (and most of his fitness) are now behind him. But he still rides regularly, both on the road and on the gravelly stuff.