All roads lead to Rome

EF Education-EasyPost is going for stage wins at the Giro d’Italia

May 1, 2024

On Saturday, the Giro d’Italia will roll out from the Venaria Reale palace, in the hills of Piedmont; final destination: Rome.

Simon Carr, Alexander Cepeda, Esteban Chaves, Stefan de Bod, Mikkel Honoré, Andrea Piccolo, Georg Steinhauser, and Michael Valgren will race the Italian grand tour for EF Education-EasyPost.

The three-week journey up and down the Italian peninsula will be full of opportunities for our young racers and veterans to attack. We are going for stage wins at this Giro.

Esteban Chaves already has three at the Giro d’Italia to his name. The Colombian loves the Giro most of all the grand tours and will encourage his teammates to race off the front whenever they see a good chance. Esteban started his European professional career in Italy and has had the honor of wearing the maglia rosa, the pink jersey reserved for the Giro’s leader. He also suffered a devastating crash on Italian roads when he was a young rider and the country’s cycling supporters backed him during his return.

“The Giro is pure cycling,” Esteban says. “It’s different from the other races. It’s more romantic. Italy has given me the best moments of my career, but also the worst moment of my life. So, it's special. It’s a tough, tough, tough love that I have for the Giro. In Italy, with all of the challenges of the weather, there’s no control in the peloton. It hurts more and takes guts to race here. The Giro is all about, grinta, as they say in Italy.”

Andrea Piccolo grew up watching Italian heroes fly up climbs in the Dolomites and Alps during his country’s home race. He would go out on his first bike rides and dream he was attacking those famous riders. Now, he is about to start his first Giro d’Italia.

“It’s a big emotion to be able to be here,” Andrea says. “For an Italian especially, the Giro is special. It is one of the biggest races in the world, but for us it is our home race. I remember watching it on TV and thinking I want to be there. Now my parents and friends can look on the TV and say Andrea is there. I am really proud of that.”

Andrea’s greatest dream now would be to win a stage. This year’s 3,400-kilometer route promises explosive racing, with shorter, punchier stages than the Giro has featured in recent years. That suits Andrea and his teammates well. They will seize every chance they get, as they race down the rugged Ligurian coast to Lucca, traverse the Apennines to Napoli, and then cross Italy’s spine and head back up the Adriatic to Lake Garda and the Dolomites and Alps for a dramatic final week of racing before the grand finale around the Coliseum in Rome.

“This race suits us really well with the team we will have,” says Esteban Chaves. “It is going to be a beautiful, hard race and we will have a lot of opportunities to go for stages. The Giro cannot be controlled, especially if there is bad weather, so it's a bit crazy, a bit messy. This team is good for that stuff.”

Georg Steinhauser cannot wait. The German will make his grand tour debut at the Giro d’Italia. Georg is nervous and excited. He wants to show what he can do.

“I think you can compare it a little bit to the feeling I had back in school, when you had to do a test and you know you've studied for it,” Georg says. “You just think, okay, I’ve studied, I've done the work, so now I'm just going to see what comes of it. I don’t want to have any regrets. I have already raced at this level for two years. If the others can do it, I can do it as well. For sure, I would love there to be some stages where I am racing for the win. But I also just want to collect the experience of how it is to race a grand tour and to finish it. I want to get to Rome.”

That would mean the world to Andrea Piccolo, too. He has already worn the Vuelta a España’s leader’s jersey, but at home in Italy, being able to tell people that you raced a Giro d’Italia is still the first test of a pro racer.

“I am really honored to do this race,” he says. “The roads are going to be full of fans. And everyone will know the Italian riders in the peloton. I don’t know what it would be like to win a stage in the Giro, because I have never won one, but for sure it would be a great emotion that I could share with all my friends, my family, and all of the Italian people.”

Esteban does know what it’s like to win stages at the Italian grand tour. This year, he is determined to stand on the top step of a podium at the Giro again.

“I have a lot of hunger,” he says. “I have a lot of friends in Italy. I know their roads, I know how it is to win on them. To take another one would be a confirmation that I'm still here. I’m not done. I consider myself pretty resilient and pretty professional. And when I arrive at a challenge like this, I want to be great. And this is not an exception. The condition is good. I’m still focused and believe it will come.”

Anything can happen at the Giro d’Italia. That’s what makes it so exciting. Simon Carr is coming off a huge win at the Tour of the Alps and is ready to climb with the best. Alexander Cepeda finished third on a stage at the Giro last year and wants to do better. Stefan de Bod is looking forward to the time trials, going for breakaways, and helping his teammates. Mikkel Honoré excels on hard, hilly days and is very motivated for this Giro. Michael Valgren will make his return to grand tour racing for the first time after his 2022 crash. The Dane has worked hard to get in shape for this race and is eager to show that he is still a champion. With Esteban, Andrea, and Georg, they form a well-balanced team that can compete on any given day.

One thing is for sure; our team is going to race their hearts out all the way to Rome. Wish them good luck!

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