Belgium's Vuelta a España winner Remco Evenepoel is one of the favourites for the Giro d'Italia crown ©Getty Images

Slovenia's Primož Roglič is set to go up against Belgian Remco Evenepoel once again as the two are tipped as favourites for the Giro d'Italia title in the opening Grand Tour of the season with the first stage set to begin tomorrow in the Abruzzo city of Fossacesia.

Soudal-Quick-Step rider Evenepoel has been given a slight edge in a race missing last year's champion, Australian Jai Hindley, who has instead set his sights on the Tour de France, following his maiden Grand Tour victory after his Vuelta a España triumph last year.

The Spanish race was touted as a preview for the Giro d'Italia which is due to feature seven summit finishes in its 21-stage schedule.

The highest climb, the Cima Coppi, comes on the stage 13 excursion to Switzerland, including a 2,470-metres peak at the Col du Grand-Saint-Bernard.

The stage could prove pivotal as the 23-year-old Evenepoel has proved himself to be a climb specialist.

Slovenia's Primož Roglič will be without a number of key team-mates following a COVID-19 outbreak at Jumbo-Visma ©Getty Images
Slovenia's Primož Roglič will be without a number of key team-mates following a COVID-19 outbreak at Jumbo-Visma ©Getty Images

Roglič's Jumbo-Visma are also without three key climbers in the form of Tobias Foss of Norway and Dutchmen Wilco Kelderman and Robert Gesink due to positive COVID-19 tests.

Replacement Josh van Emden was then also ruled out to the virus and has been substituted for Sam Oomen.

Three individual time trials for a total of 73 kilometres could, though, allow Roglič to make his mark on the race.

The first of which will serve as the opening stage as riders travel 18.4km to Ortona on the Abruzzo coast.

Roglič has had a tough time with injuries in recent times after crashing out in the final week of last year's Vuelta, having already arrived in Spain following a fall in the Tour de France.

The 33-year-old subsequently had surgery on his shoulder but has been in full health this year.

That has seen him returning to impressive form, winning both races he has entered in 2023 – Catalunya and Tirreno-Adriatico.

If Roglič can stay fit for the next three weeks, then history suggests he should stand a good chance.

The Slovenian has won three of the last four Grand Tours that he has completed but has also failed to finish three of the last four he has started.

Welsh veteran Geraint Thomas, the 2018 Tour de France champion, stands an outside chance for the maglia rosa and has unfinished business after not finishing in his last two previous attempts.

The Ineos Grenadiers man's third place finish in last year's Tour de France showed that, at even at 36, is not ready to step aside just yet.