World champion Mark Cavendish heads up a very British looking line-up for this year’s Giro d’Italia, starting in Denmark on Saturday, May 5.
Cavendish, Ian Stannard, Ben Swift, Geraint Thomas and Peter Kennaugh have been named in the British squad’s nine-man line-up for the opening Grand Tour of the 2012 season.
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They will be joined by Austrian Bernhard Eisel, Spaniard Juan Antonio Flecha, and Colombians Sergio Henao and Rigoberto Uran.
Cavendish has previously won seven stages of the Giro.
“The Giro is one of my favourite races of the season and I’m very happy to be riding it,” said the Manxman.
“We’ve got a good squad to go and win stages. Geraint, Pete and 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,” Cavendish continued. “If we could achieve that it would be a massive honour for the team.”
Cavendish is currently racing in the Tour de Romandie in Switzerland, where Sky team-mate Bradley Wiggins is leading overall. Thomas won the opening prologue time trial, and now ranks as one of the favourites to win the Giro’s short opening time trial.
Sky’s Giro line-up is in stark contrast to the Romandie roster, which seems to be built around Wiggins’ overall aspirations rather than sprinter support. Cavendish is using Romandie more to build condition for the Giro than take wins, and slipped out the back of the bunch on the two opening road stages after a solid third spot in the prologue.
The Giro team, though, looks to be built around a super-fast lead-out train for Cavendish to take some bunch sprints. Classics man Flecha is on hand to take opportunistic stage wins, and Uran and Henao will undoubtedly have a dig in the mountains.