Mark Cavendish leads strong British Sky team to the Giro d’Italia
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Friday, April 27, 2012

Mark Cavendish leads strong British Sky team to the Giro d’Italia

by Ben Atkins at 12:38 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Giro d'Italia
World champion chasing stages and team time trial; Colombian riders there for the overall

mark cavendishTeam Sky has announced its nine-man roster for the Giro d’Italia - which starts in Herning, Denmark on May 5th - and is built heavily around the sprint talent of Mark Cavendish. With the World champion’s season built around the dual targets of the Tour de France green jersey and the Olympic Games, it is unlikely that the Manxman will complete the race however, but the British team will also be looking to its Colombian climbers for possible overall success.

“We have a very strong squad here which we feel can be competitive on several fronts,” said directeur sportif Steven de Jongh. “In Mark Cavendish we have the fastest sprinter in the world and he will be looking to get some stage wins under his belt as quickly as possible. The team time trial is another big target of ours and we’ll definitely be looking to show what we can do there as well.

“Once the race hits the mountains Rigoberto [Urán] and Sergio [Henao] will become our focus,” he added, “and if Rigo can continue the good form he showed over the spring then he is more than capable of achieving a high placing in the General Classification.”

Cavendish has won a total of seven stages of the Giro [not including the two team time trial victories that he was part of - ed] in his three appearances to date and, since he spends much of the year living in Tuscany, it is almost a home race. A focus on the Tour however, has meant that the only time he has reached the finish was his debut in 2008.

“The Giro is one of my favourite races of the season and I’m very happy to be riding it,” he said. “We’ve got a good squad to go and win stages. Geraint [Thomas], Pete [Kennaugh] and [Ben] Swifty have just come off the track so they should have that explosive power which will be important in the first week, and the rest of the team have all done well in the Classics.

“We want to win the team time trial as well and hopefully that will get us the pink jersey,” added the World champion. “If we could achieve that it would be a massive honour for the team. It should be a really good three weeks because we’re all friends and have a good understanding on the road. The Tour de Romandie has allowed me to get some miles in the legs so come the start in Denmark I’ll be raring to go.”

Thomas has only recently returned to the road, after a successful track World championships, and will ride the Giro as part of his season’s preparation for the Olympic velodrome. The last time the Welshman rode the Corsa Rosa he followed the race with gold in Beijing, and is hoping that a similar path to the London games will lead to similar success.

“I’m really looking forward to the Giro, especially as I haven’t ridden a great deal on the road this season,” he explained. “I took part in the race once before, in 2008, and found it to be a lot less stressful than the Tour de France. The atmosphere is fantastic and Italy is a special country to ride in.

“Starting in Denmark should also be interesting and I will be motivated to ride a good prologue,” he added. “Then I’ll be looking to help Cav in the sprints and getting stuck in with the team time trial. The last week looks hard but I can’t wait to get going.”

Swift has similarly good memories of the race, which he hopes to revive in this year’s edition, where he will be an integral part of Cavendish’s lead out.

“The Giro will always be a special race for me because it was the first Grand Tour I rode back in 2009 and I lived in Italy whilst on the British Academy. I’ve always had a good relationship with the Italian fans too and they are very knowledgeable and passionate about cycling.

“My main job will be helping Cav but if an opportunity arises for a stage win myself I'll definitely try and take it, whether that's in a sprint or from a breakaway,” he added. “It's going to be a great experience starting in Denmark and there should be plenty of chances for Team Sky to show what we can do.”

Ian Stannard will take the team’s British compliment up to five out of nine; in addition to them, and the two Colombian climbers, the team will be completed by Cavendish’s “minder” Bernhard Eisel and Juan Antonio Flecha, who are both coming off successful Cobbled Classics campaign.

Team Sky for the Giro d’Italia
Mark Cavendish, Bernhard Eisel, Juan Antonio Flecha, Sergio Henao, Peter Kennaugh, Ian Stannard, Ben Swift, Geraint Thomas and Rigoberto Urán


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