Hackney’s Tao Geoghegan Hart will be looking to land a second Giro d'Italia title when the opening Grand Tour race of the 2023 season commences in Costa dei Trabocchi this Saturday, writes Ziad Chaudry.

The 28-year-old INEOS Grenadiers cyclist is in red hot form leading into the 3,448km trek which will be raced over three weeks in 21 stages.

The highlight from the 106th edition of the Giro will feature three stages of time trials in the western Alps and in the race’s Cima Coppi (highest point) - the Colle del Gran San Bernardo - at 2469m. The third and final week is contested in and around the Dolomites in North East Italy before they all head towards the finish line right beside the historic Imperial Fora in the capital city of Rome.

On the way to his brilliant 2020 success Geoghegan Hart won two stages before claiming the prized Pink Jersey title along with lifting the Trofie Senza Fine at Piazza del Duomo, Milan.

This season has seen the Arsenal fan take two third-place general classification finishes at Tirreno-Adriatico and Volta a la Communitat Valenciana, respectively, before landing the Tour of the Alps title around the combined Austria and Italy Euroregion of Tyrol, South Tyrol and Trentino two weeks ago.

Geoghegan Hart will be joined by fellow Brits Geraint Thomas and Ben Swift in the strong eight-man INEOS Grenadiers set-up, with Thomas, 36, the 2018 Tour de France champion, in his fifth Giro and also a leading contender for the Pink Jersey after finishing 15th in Tour of the Alps.

Swift, 35, is also competing in his fifth Giro, and played a key part in helping Geoghegan Hart to victory in 2020.

“Racing in Italy is something I love,” said Geoghegan Hart, the former Stoke Newington School pupil.

“The Tifosi, the landscapes and the history of the Giro always make it an incredible experience.

“Each Grand Tour is its own journey and for the 2023 Giro we are lining up with a great team, definitely hoping to add another special chapter to this race.

“I’ve been in good form and have just really been enjoying racing with my teammates. Riding well at Tirreno-Adriatico and the Tour of the Alps has been great, but also satisfying to reward the hard work and dedication of my teammates and our amazing staff.

“This group has spent a lot of time together so we’ll go into the race with great morale and confidence to make the most of the three big weeks ahead of us.”

Also in for the hunt for the prized Maglia Rosa (Pink Jersey) is Belgium’s Remco Evenepoel (Soudal Quick-Step) who this season claimed the UAE Tour title and Slovenia’s three-time Vuelta a Espana champion Primoz Roglic.

The 33-year-old Jumbo-Visma team member triumphed at Tirreno-Adriatico two months ago where Geoghegan Hart finished third in the GC.

Other names to look out for during the next three weeks include Portugal's UAE Team Emirates rep João Almeida, 24, who spent 15 days wearing the Pink Jersey in 2020, Italian favourite Damiano Caruso, 35, of Team Bahrain Victorious, who finished second in 2021 and Colombia’s EF Education-Easy Post cyclist Rigoberto Uran, who will be hoping to land top spot after recording two runner-up places in 2013 and 2014.

See how Geoghegan Hart gets on throughout the three weeks live on Eurosport while free-to-air DMAX TV will show a daily hourly highlights package at 7pm.