By Nigel Wynn
Cummings put in an impressive ride in last year's race, kicking off what turned into an impressive season.
The 35-year-old from the Wirral launched a trademark solo attack on stage four of 2016 Tirreno-Adriatico to seal the stage victory. He subsequently won stages of the Tour de France, Tour of the Basque Country and Criterium du Dauphiné, and won the Tour of Britain overall.
Cummings has only raced on two days so far in 2017. He started the Volta ao Algarve in Portugal in early February, but withdrew during stage two.
Along with British sprint star Mark Cavendish and Norwegian Edvald Boasson Hagen, Cummings is spearheading the South African team's hopes of taking stage victories.
"Tirreno-Adriatico was a great race for us last year," said sports director Roger Hammond.
"It was the race where we really kicked off our World Tour victories with Steve [Cummings] so we have good memories from racing in Italy. Furthermore, with our team being based in Lucca, it feels a little bit like our home race so of course the guys get a bit more motivated for it.
"The terrain here is also well-suited for the team we are bringing with a couple of sprint stages for Mark and some undulating and hilly stages for Steve and Edvald. We are looking forward to getting some good results and hopefully it goes as well for us as it did last year."
Yorkshireman Scott Thwaites continues his debut year for Dimension Data in Tirreno-Adriatico. Thwaites goes into the race for the first time in his career, fresh from finishing 10th in Saturday's Strade Bianche, also on his debut.
Watch: Steve Cummings wins stage seven of the 2016 Tour de France
“I’m looking forward to starting Tirreno-Adriatico," said Thwaites. "As it has been the theme for me this year, it’s my first time participating in this race so it will be a new experience again.
"We have been working well together this year and the guys are all very motivated. I think that if luck swings our way, we could be in the hunt for a few stages both in the sprints and in hilly terrain."
Dimension Data's line-up for the race is completed with Bernhard Eisel, Mark Renshaw, Jay Thomson and Johann Van Zyl.
The WorldTour-level Tirreno-Adriatico starts on Wednesday March 8 and finishes seven days later on Tuesday March 14.
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