Brandon McNulty says he is "hopeful" of finishing in the top 10 of the upcoming Giro d'Italia, as he looks to become the latest American general classification contender.
The 22-year-old came to the attention of the wider cycling public at the 2020 edition of the Italian Grand Tour when, with seven stages remaining, he shot up to fourth on GC after finishing third in a 34km time trial.
UAE-Team Emirates' young starlet faded in the Dolomites, eventually finishing 15th, but his promise alerted American fans to a new GC hope.
"I think it's realistic," he said when asked about his chances of a top 10 in the forthcoming Giro. "It'll be quite tough, but I'm hopeful I can do it.
"I was good last year and the team planned that I will go back. It's good that I will have opportunities this year there versus the other two Grand Tours. It won't be such a free role and I'm happy with that."
There are just 38 time trial kilometres in the Giro, somewhat of a low figure for McNulty, who sees himself in the same mould as Tom Dumoulin and Geraint Thomas.
"That's what I am: a time triallist who can climb easily," he said.
"For me, it's always the best strategy to do well in the TTs and then keep on improving my climbing ability to defend myself on the big days."
Building up to May at the Volta a Catalunya, McNulty finished fourth in the Catalan race's time trial and is in confident spirits just over a month out from the Italian test.
"It's been good to test my legs this week," he added. "I am still missing that kick for the finals but I am building well for the season.
"It was a very nice TT for me and now the important thing is to build on these results.
"I came into this race feeling good but obviously the Pyrenees test the form.
"You always get the final two to five percent in the races so from here it's about recovering and building up to the Giro. There's still a little way to go."
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