Australian Richie Porte will be the squad’s general classification hope, and goes into the prestigious Italian three-week race as one of the leading contenders. Porte has already taken victories in Paris-Nice, Volta a Catalunya and Giro del Trentino so far this year, in what has been his strongest season to date.
“The Giro d’Italia has been my main goal of the season,” said Porte. “I’ve worked very hard through the winter and am entering the race strong, healthy and up for the challenge. The competition will be tough, and obviously anything can happen in a Grand Tour, but we’ve got a great group of riders going into the race and we are ready for it.”
Porte will be supported in the race by a distinctly international line-up comprising Austrian Bernhard Eisel, Colombian Sebastian Henao, Belarusians Vasil Kiryienka and Kanstantsin Siutsou, Czech Leopold König, Spaniard Mikel Nieve, and Italians Salvatore Puccio and Elia Viviani.
Viviani will be the team’s nominated sprinter for flat stages. Henao, Nieve, Siutsou and Kiryienka will provide support for Porte in the mountains.
Porte’s main GC rivals will be Italian Fabio Aru (Astana), Spaniard Alberto Contador (Tinkoff-Saxo) and Colombian and former Sky team-mate Rigoberto Uran (Etixx-QuickStep).
No British riders have been selected by Sky for the race, and the Giro will be devoid of Britons for the first time in 16 years.
Sky Team Principal Dave Brailsford said: “Team Sky has had a great start to the year and we are going into the first Grand Tour of the season with a strong team, led by Richie.
“Richie is entering the race in good shape and with real focus and determination. He’s made a lot of small changes across a number of areas in his preparation and training this season after the illness that affected his performance in 2014.
“His results this season speak for themselves with excellent wins at Paris-Nice, Volta a Catalunya and Giro del Trentino. This is one of the biggest and toughest races to win in the calendar but we go to the Giro confident about the challenge ahead.”