It’s a statement when you consider the field for the 100th edition includes more experienced campaigners, including Nairo Quintana (Movistar), but a quick assessment of Jungels’s results and attitude makes it plausible.
The 24-year-old finished sixth overall at the Grand Tour last year in which he also marked a stint in the leader’s jersey. That campaign and his 2016 season at large, which included third overall at Tirreno-Adriatico, wins at both his national road and time trial championships, as well as a team time victory at the world titles with Quick-Step Floors, could spur a notable improvement in May.
“For sure it gives you a lot of confidence when you start a season and you know, OK, I don’t have to be afraid to pass the climb, but maybe I can attack on the climb. That’s a big difference,” Jungels told Cycling Central.
“I think I had a pretty good progression during the last months and I think we can go with a good team, full of confidence into the Giro.”
Jungels isn’t brash when asked what result he is targeting at the Giro, which along with the preceding Tirreno-Adriatico, is among his major goals this season. He has a quiet confidence though that now at the start of 2017 makes his long odds an enticing bet.
“It’s a little bit different this year, the course is really hard, the contenders will be stronger, so I just think if I could repeat a similar result to last year it would be really good,” he said.
“For the one-week stage races I’ll be at least one of the captains and then I’m going to go for the Giro again. I think there are a few chances for me. Obviously in the team here there’s a lot of strong riders but we just keep pushing each other and it works.”
Tour of Oman daily highlights will be available on demand at Cycling Central.
One of those one-week stage races includes the Tour of Oman, which begins 14 February. Jungels won the opening stage last season and after working hard on the front for Dubai Tour winner Marcel Kittel earlier this month is happy with his condition heading in.
“I knew I couldn’t help him so much for the sprint train so I decided to do some good work for the team and then for myself. In the end, it [was] a really good week of training for me and work for the team was perfect,” Jungels said.
“I am feeling really good I have to say. It’s been a good winter.”
Jungels is unlikely to compete at the Tour de France, with the Giro as well as the Vuelta a España, that he’ll use as preparation for the UCI Road World Championships, on his race schedule.
“This year maybe not,” he said of a Tour start. “I was good in the Giro last year so I’m going to try that again. There are two long time trials, which should suit me. We’ll see how that works out. I think the first goal is Tirreno with the two time-trials also, so should be good.”