When the 2016 Giro d’Italia starts in Apeldoorn, the Netherlands, on Friday it will not feature a single British rider for the second year running.
Last year’s Italian Grand Tour was the first for 16 years to not feature a single Briton, and this year’s race will be the same.
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Essex man Alex Dowsett had been on the long list for Movistar’s Giro squad, but has had to undergo collarbone surgery and will not be fit to take part. A Giro time trial stage winner in 2013, Dowsett had been eyeing this year’s stages against the clock, but will instead be recuperating at home.
British WorldTour team Sky has also not selected any British riders in its nine-man roster for the prestigious three-week race. Several of Sky’s British riders are coming out of a heavy spring campaign, riding in the concurrently-running Tour of California (May 15-22) or preparing for the Tour de France in July.
On Tuesday, Sky confirmed its line-up would consist of Spaniards Mikel Landa, Mikel Nieve and David Lopez; Irish riders Philip Deignan and Nicolas Roche; German Christian Knees; Colombian Sebastian Henao; Italian Elia Viviani; and American Ian Boswell.
Sky is one of two teams in the 2016 Giro to not field any riders from its country of registration: the American Trek-Segafredo team is the other.
Mark Cavendish and Steve Cummings of the South African Dimension Data squad are also absent this year. Cavendish has won 15 stages of the race in his career.
Cavendish will join the Great Britain men’s endurance team at an altitude training camp in Big Bear, California. He will then ride in the Tour of California in mid-May.
In recent years, Cavendish, Bradley Wiggins and David Millar have worn the coveted maglia rosa of Giro race leader. There has never been a British overall winner in its 98 editions.
Watch: Giro d’Italia 2016 route
Great Britain is currently the sixth-ranked nation in the UCI’s WorldTour, behind Spain, Australia, Belgium, Colombia and France. The highest-ranked British rider is Ian Stannard (Sky) in 17th place, with Geraint Thomas (Sky) in 20th.
This year is the 50th anniversary of the first stage victory by a British rider in the Giro d’Italia: Vin Denson won stage nine of the 1966 edition in Campobasso.
Cavendish was the last British rider to win a stage of the Giro, having claimed stage 13 of the 2013 edition.
The 2016 Giro d’Italia starts in Apeldoorn, the Netherlands, on Friday May 6 and finishes in Turin on Sunday, May 29.