What's the route like?
Starting on Friday, it's typically brutal. And with only 26km of time trialling in this year's edition, it's a race the climbers will dominate.
Originally planning to start in Hungary in 2020, the Giro makes good on that commitment this year, with a couple of flattish stages and a time trial to kick things off across three stages on that foreign foray.
Relocating to Italy for Stage 4, though, the race announces its intentions: a summit finish up Mount Etna. The vicious days then pepper the race. Stage 9 sees a summit finish to Blockhaus, Stage 15 packs in a closing 80km from hell, and the last week includes four extreme days of ascending. Any rider surviving the three weeks will have more than 50km of vertical ascent in their legs.
The beastly beauty of the route may lie outside the obvious, though. Stages 7 and 14 both look - despite the absence of any blockbuster climbs - suspiciously difficult, and it would be no surprise if it is one of those days that proves decisive in the General Classification.
Who are the favourites?
It's hard to bet against Richard Carapaz (2.747/4). The Giro winner in 2019, he came within a whisker of winning the 2020 Vuelta and, outside of Roglic and Pogacar (neither of whom ride here), he has been the best General Classification rider of recent years. Carapaz has progressed quietly this year, riding well at the Volta a Catalunya, and will be supported by a strong Ineos team.
Simon Yates (8.007/1), who famously crumbled when in the race lead in 2018, will have his fifth attempt at winning the Giro here. He's certainly capable - he's a previous Vuelta winner, after all - but without the support of a team used to winning General Classifications, it's hard to see him claiming pink in Verona.
Joao Almeida (9.008/1) is the pick of many based on his promise when leading the Giro for so long in 2020, and his solid showing in last year's race. His form this year has been promising, too, with decent shows in the UAE tour, Paris-Nice and the Volta a Catalunya. At just 23, he may still be improving, but the lack of time trialling in the race won't help him, and whether he can perform across the three weeks of a Grand Tour is still in doubt.
Who are the most likely outsiders?
There are a host of riders who can't be dismissed. Returning from a break from the sport, former-winner Tom Dumoulin (22.0021/1) has shown bits and pieces of form. Fellow former-winner Vincenzo Nibali (100.0099/1) showed that his career is not yet over when placing highly at the Tour of Sicily recently. And to complete a trio of old timers, even Alejandro Valverde (100.0099/1) has shown form in the Spring Classics and can't be completely ruled out.
More interesting as outsiders, though, are Hugh Carthy (60.0059/1) and Romain Bardet (28.0027/1). Carthy showed signs in the 2021 Vuelta that he was a General Classification candidate of the future. He hasn't gone on to deliver on that - and perhaps reported illnesses in 2022 mean this isn't the year to think he will - but it wouldn't be a surprise to see a prominent showing. Preference, however, is for Bardet, who popped up as a recent surprise winner of the Tour of the Alps. The course will suit him more than most, especially if he can bring some typical swashbuckle to the party and disrupt the precision planning of Ineos.
What about the sprinters?
With reports suggesting Tim Merlier is now out, Caleb Ewan and Mark Cavendish will be favourites for the six or so flat stages. Both have had promising starts to their seasons and should be able to find their days to triumph, with Cavendish especially confident in his support riders.
The likes of Fernando Gaviria, Giacomo Nizzolo, Arnaud Demare, Phil Bauhaus and Cees Bol mean that Cavendish and Ewan won't have things to themselves, but it will be interesting to see how many sprinters make it past the first week of the race as the big climbing days kick in.
One rider who will likely depart early is Mathieu van der Poel. He will be eyeing a victory in the opening stage on Friday and an accompanying Pink Jersey.