British WorldTour outfit Team Sky has unveiled its line-up for the 2016 Tour of Slovenia, which starts on Thursday (June 16).
Italian Elia Viviani will spearhead Sky’s assault on the four-day race’s two flat stages: one and four. He will come up against British sprinter Mark Cavendish (Dimension Data) in a key event prior to the Tour de France in July. Viviani and Cavendish are also set to contest the omnium event on the track at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio.
So far this season, Viviani has won a stage of the Dubai Tour and a stage of the Three Days of De Panne. Cavendish has won a stage and the overall at the Tour of Qatar, and stages of the Tour of California and Tour of Croatia.
Viviani’s Giro d’Italia was cut short in May when he failed to make it to the finish on stage eight before the time cut, and was eliminated from the race.
Last year’s Tour of Slovenia was won by Primoz Roglic (Adria Mobil) with Sky’s Mikel Nieve coming second overall. Nieve is not riding this year, but Sky has elected to take several riders that could make a bid for the overall classification.
Along with Viviani, Sky’s team is made up of Spaniards Beñat Intxausti and Xabier Zandio; British riders Alex Peters and Andy Fenn; Italian Gianni Moscon; and Norwegian Lars Petter Nordhaug.
After stage one’s almost inevitable sprint finish, stage two is the race’s key climbing stage, finishing with a 15km ascent to Golte with sections of up to 25 per cent gradient.
Watch: My toughest day – Elia Viviani
Stage three is a 16.8-kilometre individual time trial that features a draggy uphill section in its second half. Then it’s on to the final, relatively flat stage as the race concludes in Novo Mesto on Sunday, June 19.
Team Sky and Dimension Data are among six WorldTour teams taking part in the UCI 2.1-ranked race, along with Lampre-Merida, Tinkoff, Katusha and Orica-GreenEdge.
Previous winners of the Tour of Slovenia include Vincenzo Nibali (2010), Diego Ulissi (2011) and Tiago Machada (2014).