Team Ineos boss Sir Dave Brailsford has welcomed the outfit's youngest ever Grand Tour roster for the 2019 Giro d'Italia, with an average of 25.
Chris Froome won the Italian Grand Tour in 2018 but for 2019 the team is banking on youth and is allowing talents like Eddie Dunbar and Tao Geoghegan Hart to explore their possibilities.
"Over the last two seasons we have been bringing together a carefully selected group of young riders who we believe to be the future of our team," Brailsford said.
"With this developmental goal in mind, we have chosen to field our youngest-ever team for a Grand Tour and it's fitting it should be our first one as Team Ineos."
This morning, the team announced the roster with Eddie Dunbar (22 years old), Tao Geoghegan Hart (24), Sebastian Henao (25), Christian Knees (38), Jhonatan Narvaez (22), Salvatore Puccio (29), Pavel Sivakov (21) and Ivan Sosa (21) all riding. Dunbar, Narvaez and Sosa be making their Grand Tour debuts in the Giro.
The 2019 race starts Saturday (May 11) in Bologna with an uphill time trial and ends on June 2 in Verona. Froome will not defend his title, instead focussing on a fifth Tour de France win.
The team had to scrabble when they lost their planned Giro leader Egan Bernal due to a training crash and broken collarbone a week out. Bernal raced the Tour last year at just 21 years old and won Paris-Nice this spring.
"Egan's injury is a real shame as he was to lead the team in a Grand Tour for the first time," Brailsford added. "However, I'm sure he will be fighting fit come July [in the Tour de France]."
Italian Gianni Moscon had also planned on racing, but has not been on good form and will ride the Tour of California instead.
Russian Sivakov and Brit Tao Geoghegan Hart will lead the British super-team in its first Grand Tour after switching from long-time backer Sky. The team calculated the average age of the roster is 25.
"We will not dramatically change our approach to the race as we will still look to give each rider the greatest developmental opportunities and to learn and gain as much experience as possible," Brailsford said.
"Both Salvatore and Christian have been selected to add in a wealth of Grand Tour experience and to support the riders who will be racing for three weeks for the first time."
The time trials will sort out and help calm what is expected to be a nervous first 12 days. Not until stage 13, with the Lago Serrù finishing climb, will the Giro enter the high mountains. Brailsford's young group will face more experienced riders like Simon Yates (Mitchelton-Scott), Tom Dumoulin (Sunweb) and Vincenzo Nibali (Bahrain-Merida).
"Whilst we have set ourselves some clear targets and goals, the most important thing is to animate the race, embrace it and enjoy it too – as a young team we really want them to feel an excitement and anticipation of taking on this adventure and to test themselves and see where they get to," continued Brailsford.
"We will all feel very proud to start our first Grand Tour as Team Ineos and start what I'm sure is going to be a great journey together."
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