Stage hunting at the Giro d’Italia

“Our focus at the Giro will be on winning stages and with this in mind that’s the way we built the team" - Sports Director, Gregory Rast.

With only a few days to go before the first Grand Tour of the season, the Giro d’Italia, Trek-Segafredo is closing its ranks and preparing for a long and exhausting challenge. The eight riders who will face the three-week race are Mads Pedersen, Bauke Mollema, Amanuel Ghebreigazbhier, Daan Hoole, Alex Kirsch, Toms Skujins, Natnael Tesfatsion and Otto Vergarde. It will be up to them to try to start another Trek-Segafredo full sweep of a stage wins in the all the grand tours, as the Team did last year.

For a deeper insight into the Team’s ambitions and the riders that make up the roster, our first Sports Director for the race, Gregory Rast, shared his thoughts. Together with his colleagues, Steven De Jongh, Yaroslav Popovych and Adriano Baffi, Rast will have the task of outlining the strategy and pulling the strings in the hottest moments of the race.

Gregory Rast (©SeanHardy)

“At the start of a Grand Tour there’s always a perspective, an idea, a goal and a best scenario to try to achieve,” says Rast. “But it is impossible to predict, as of now, what will happen in the twenty-one days of racing. Cycling is such an unpredictable sport. We must therefore look at the Giro as twenty-one different goals to aim for, where the team, all together, must focus on a daily basis. We must also have the strength and the ability perhaps to adapt our tactics during the race, keeping in mind what we came to the Giro to do: win stages.

“Of course, not having Ciccone [the rider who won the stage last year at the Giro] is a real pity for us. Our chances of victory in the toughest stages, in the Alps and Dolomites, have been reduced a lot. Because of his strength on the climbs and the condition he showed, it was impossible to replace him 100%. But that’s it and we’re now focused on how we carve out our own space on the days when he would have been our leader.”

Mads Pedersen at Paris-Roubaix (©SprintCycling)

Former World Champion Mads Pedersen is one of the stars of the 2023 edition of the Giro. After winning one stage at the Tour de France last and going on to win three at the Vuelta a España, the Dane returns to the Giro after previous experiences in 2017 and 2018, and  he is aiming for a historic grand slam.

“Mads will be our point of reference, the rider who, due to talent and potential, deserves to be considered our captain at the Giro. We saw him at the Classics, we saw him at the Grand Tours last year. Mads is one of the most competitive riders in the world and he can fight on many different stages. His priority to win a stage is also ours. We will focus our efforts on battling with strong competitors that, of course, are aware of what Mads can do. In terms of the points jersey, I think that is something we can talk about on the way”.

Body guards: Kirsch and Vergaerde at Paris-Nice (©SprintCycling)

Trek-Segafredo chose to field a solid team that is somewhat in the image of its captain, Pedersen.

“Vergaerde, Kirsch and Hoole [the latter two are rookies at the Giro] are three domestiques with a proven track record with Mads. They are strong, reliable and perfectly placed to support him. They will have to do a lot of work behind the scenes, a lot of dirty work to ensure the best support in the key moments of the race. The same goes for Skuijns [another Giro rookie], a complete rider, an excellent domestique but also a smart attacker. For him, the hard routes of the Giro could become fertile ground for inventing something.

“For Ghebreigzabhier and Tesfatsion, the same applies as for Skujins. Both are strong climbers and, with the second and third weeks in mind, and the numerous breakaways that will arise on the mountain stages, they can aim for the chance to to take a dream stage victory.”

Bauke Mollema (©SprintCycling)

Last but, of course, not least, a rider who needs no introduction is Bauke Mollema. Like Pedersen, Mollema arrives at the Giro with the aim of completing a slam of Grand Tour stage wins. At the age of 36, at the start of his 22nd Grand Tour (and 6th Giro), Bauke certainly does not want to stop impressing.

“He is chasing a dream that, for his palmares, would be like the icing on the cake,” says Rast. “We want to help him realize that. Bauke is a solid rider, experienced and smart enough to spot the best opportunities during the Giro. He is a die-hard rider and when the race becomes tough, when fatigue sets in, like in the second and third week, he will be able to emerge. He’ll have his chances and we’ll go along with him.”