Vincenzo Nibali is among the pre-race favourites ©Getty Images

Two-time winner Vincenzo Nibali be among the favourites to secure the Giro d'Italia title when the second Grand Tour of the coronavirus impacted cycling season gets underway in Sicily.

Plans for the three-week race had to be heavily adapted due to the pandemic, with racing having initially been scheduled to begin in Hungary’s capital city Budapest on May 9.

The cancellation of the race start ultimately led to the postponement of the race to the new October date and Sicily stepped in to replace Budapest as host of the opening four stages.

Nibali, the winner of the Giro d'Italia in 2013 and 2016, has welcomed the opportunity to compete in his home region.

The Italian is expected to face competition from 2018 Tour de France winner Geraint Thomas and his fellow Briton Simon Yates, who warmed up to the race by winning Tirreno-Adriatico.

Denmark’s Jakob Fuglsang and Steven Kruijswijk of the Netherlands are also considered among the pre-race favourites.

Nibali has suggested stage 18, a mountain stage from Pinzolo to Laghi di Cancano, could be a decisive one in the race.

"It is very exciting to be able to race a few stages of the Giro on the roads of my region, in Sicily," he said.

"I don't want to make any predictions, I will try to do my best, and then we will see what we have achieved.

"There are many strong riders who will try to get on the podium in Milan - Thomas has the advantage of the ITT on his side.

"Fuglsang, Yates and Kruijswijk are also among the main contenders.

"I believe that the stage of the Laghi di Cancano could be decisive for the general classification."

The Giro d'Italia will begin tomorrow in Sicily, which stepped in to host the race start ©Getty Images
The Giro d'Italia will begin tomorrow in Sicily, which stepped in to host the race start ©Getty Images

Italian hopes will be high for tomorrow’s opening stage, with newly crowned time trial world champion among Filippo Ganna leading their challenge.

Ganna faces competition from Australia’s Rohan Dennis and Germany’s Tony Martin in the 15.1-kilometre individual time trial from Monreale to Palermo.

Riders will be placed in a bubble for the duration of the Grand Tour, with similar Covid-19 protocols in operation to last month’s Tour de France.

The race is due to conclude on October 25 with a 15.7km individual time trial from Cernusco sul Naviglio to Milan.

Typically the first Grand Tour of the season, the Giro d’Italia unusually follows the Tour de France in 2020.

The final six stages will also overlap with the Vuelta a España, the final Grand Tour, amid the revised and condensed cycling calendar.