Ivan Basso and Davide Cassani are tipping Vincenzo Nibali for glory at the Giro d'Italia, which begins on Friday.
Nibali won the Giro in 2013, and, despite sitting out the past two editions, is among the favourites to claim the crown this time around with 2015 winner Alberto Contador not defending the title.
The Italian is one of just six riders to have won all three grand tours, with his 2014 Tour de France title added to success in the Vuelta a Espana in 2010.
Alejandro Valverde and Mikel Landa are also expected to vie for victory, but Basso - a two-time winner of this event - expects Nibali's recent success to prove decisive.
He told Omnisport: "Nibali won't only be the guiding light, but also the favourite for everything he has achieved in recent years.
"Nibali is a great champion and a dear friend. He's got exceptional talent, as he proved winning all the three grand tours.
"He is sure about his path and this is right. This is the plan that makes him confident and eventually all the Italian fans will be proud of him."
This edition will include three individual time trials, seven sprints and four high mountain stages, and it is Nibali's strength in the former and the latter that makes Cassani, another two-time winner of this grand tour, believe he will reclaim the title.
"The favourite is Vincenzo Nibali because he is strong in the time trials and stronger in the mountains, where he always gave his best," he told Omnisport.
"Among those who are proficient in both specialties there is the Colombian Rigoberto Uran who already finished on the podium twice at the Giro.
"These are the two most complete riders, but on such a route let's not forget someone like Mikel Landa. Nibali is the man to beat although Mikel Landa is very dangerous.
"I expect Nibali to be protagonist and win the Giro for the second time."
The first of the season's three grand tours starts in Apeldoorn, Netherlands, and moves onto Catanzaro in Southern Italy after the opening three stages.
The course winds its way north from there, with the first uphill finish coming at stage six, when the riders travel from Ponte to Roccarso.
A series of difficult days in the Dolomites will follow, with the final time trial at stage 15 consisting of a daunting 10.8 kilometre climb, while the 19th phase includes a pass over the highest summit - the Cima Coppi.
The riders will travel a told of 3,463.1km before reaching the finishing line in Turin on May 29.