Whilst most of the cycling world will be gazing at Nice this Saturday for the Grand Depart of the Tour de France, about seven hours drive away, in Urbino, Italy, the grande partenza of the U23 Giro d’Italia will also be taking place.
In a season with barely an under-23 race to its name, the race affectionately known as the Baby Giro, takes on even greater significance for the world’s top young under-23s this year. It’s a race that has helped propelled many a rider to the professional ranks in past years. Previous winners Aleksandr Vlasov, Pavel Sivakov, Joe Dombrowski and Carlos Betancur amongst others.
It’s also been a happy hunting ground for Brits in recent seasons too. Ethan Hayter, Fred Wright, Matt Walls, Charlie Quarterman, Stevie Williams and Mark Donovan have all either won stages in the race or put in eye-catching performances.
All of them are now either at, or headed for, the World Tour.
Lewis first shot to our attention in 2018 when he won the junior Paris-Roubaix as a first-year junior. 2018 also saw him finish 5th in the junior E3 Harelbeke Juniors, 2nd in the Junior CiCLE Classic and 2nd in the British junior road race championships.
Last season he consolidated his position as one of the most exciting junior talents in the cycling world. He ‘only’ finished 8th in Paris-Roubaix and 2nd in Gent-Wevelgem. But in stage racing, he really excelled. He won the Sleepwell Hotels Isle of Man Junior Tour in May and then took victory the UK’s most prestigious junior road race at the end of August: the Junior Tour of Wales.
This year he joined Jake Stewart at the Groupama-FDJ Continental team, one of the best development teams around.
Wood is a second-year under-23 at SEG Racing Academy, arguably the most successful development team around. They are regular winners at the under-23 level and have helped numerous riders onto the WorldTour.
Relatively new to competitive cycling (he’s only been riding seriously for three years), he’s a rider with plenty of potential. He spent last season in France at AVC Aix-en-Provence. Starting on their reserve team, he quickly picked up top results in amateur races in France. In June he was second overall at the Spanish stage race Volta a Castelló and then backed that up with 10th in the under-23 time trial at the national road championships. He rounded out the year with 9th in the under-23 Chrono des Nations, underlining his ability to time trial as well as climb.
This preview episode features short interviews with both riders as they look to their debuts in this prestigious race. They will also be keeping audio diaries for us during the Baby Giro, which we will edit together for a special episode that we’ll publish once the race is over.
If you want to find out more about the route for this edition and which riders to look out for, under-23 cycling expert Joseph Doherty, who runs the excellent U23 Cycling Zone blog, has put together an incredible preview of the race on our website here.