The Frenchman, reigning Junior European Champion, lands in Villa di Cordignano (Northern Italy) with high hopes, and will take on a frequent rival in Junior World Champion, Per Strand Hagenes: “Winning here would be huge”
The history of the Giro del Belvedere speaks for itself: 83 editions in just under a century (the first start dates back to 1923), a roll of honour of absolute prestige and an attitude to be the gateway to professional cycling for the athletes who manage to show off in the Under 23 classic.
The edition scheduled for next April 18th, on Easter Monday as usual, in Villa di Cordignano (Northern Italy), is ready to confirm such premises once again. In a cycling world increasingly characterised by early talent, Groupama-FDJ Continental is one of the leading teams in the U23 category. It is no coincidence that Romain Grégoire, JR European Champion in 2021 in Trento, has chosen the youth squad of the long-time French team to take his first steps in the new category.
“After a magic 2021 (Grégoire also won silver medal at the World Championships in Leuven), my goal is to adapt to the new category quickly, in spite of the challenges, and get back to winning as soon as possible.”
The Giro del Belvedere seems perfect to enhance the skills of the young Frenchman, who can fight on the climbs but also has an excellent sprint in reduced bunch finishes. “During the week I will study the route – he admitted – I have been told that it’s not the easiest one. Our team is very competitive, several guys among us have the chance to hold our own in the finale. I am looking forward to returning to the winning ways among U23, and doing it at Belvedere would be fantastic”.
Among the many rivals, the 19-year-old Frenchman will meet Norway’s rising star Per Strand Hagenes (Jumbo-Visma Academy), arguably his most frequent rival in his last Junior season. Grégoire won the European Championship in Trento in front of Hagenes, but the Norwegian immediately returned the favor by winning the category’s WC in Belgium, ahead of his rival. “Hagenes has been my long-time rival now, but in the U23 category everything changes: the level is higher and he certainly won’t be my only opponent at Belvedere and throughout the season,” said Grégoire.
The riders taking part in the Giro del Belvedere 2022 will tackle a 166.2 km course, made of two different loops. In the first, to be repeated 14 times, the athletes will face the “Conche” climb, while the final circuit, to be repeated twice, includes the iconic ascent of the race, the Montaner from the Borgo Canalet side, and the tricky Via delle Longhe uphill drag.