Fabio Aru will return to Grand Tour racing after undergoing surgery for a constructed iliac artery in his leg as he heads up the UAE Team Emirates squad heading to the 2019 Tour de France.
The Italian will return to the race for the first time since finishing 5th in the 2017 edition and will be hoping to ride better than his 21st place at the recent Tour de Suisse, where he made his return to racing following the operation.
The rest of the eight man squad that will accompany Aru on the French Grand Tour will consist of Dan Martin, Rui Costa, Alexander Kristoff, Sergio Henao, Sven Bystrøm, Jasper Philipsen and Vegard Laengen.
The team's main sprinter Fernando Gaviria, who picked up the stage one victory and first yellow jersey at the 2018 Tour, will miss this year's race after failing to recover from a knee injury in time.
Aru was forced to miss the 2019 Giro d'Italia after it was announced in March that Aru was to have an operation to correct the condition that can leave riders with the feeling of their leg cramping up, losing power as their blood struggles to circulate.
"From a certain point of view, I can only be relieved to have highlighted the problem," Aru said at the time, "on the other hand, I am angry about the bad luck that has fallen on me for the umpteenth time and that will force me to miss the Giro d’Italia again."
Aru continued: "I will work to try to put an end to this dark period as soon as possible."
The 2015 Vuelta a España winner was referring to the past few years where he has been unable to replicate the form that saw him not only win the Spanish Grand Tour that year but also pick up second place at the Giro d'Italia.
Aru missed the 2017 Giro d'Italia after a crash in training prior to the race, while also suffering through the 2018 Italian Grand Tour before abandoning on stage 19.
At the 2018 Vuelta Aru caused controversy after crashing and cursing the team’s bike sponsor live on television, later apologising to Ernesto Colnago.
As the 2019 season rolled around, Aru's numbers began to worry both the rider and his team, with Aru's left leg feeling weak when he went all-out, with medical tests revealing a constricted iliac artery.
"This relatively rare condition is found in professional cyclists given the position adopted on their bikes and can develop progressively over a period of several years," said team doctor Jeroen Swart.
After the successful surgery, Aru returned to racing at the Tour de Suisse, where he finished 21st overall as Egan Bernal (Ineos) beat Rohan Dennis (Bahrain-Merida) by 19 seconds.
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Hi. I'm Cycling Weekly's Weekend Editor. I like writing offbeat features and eating too much bread when working out on the road at bike races.
Before joining Cycling Weekly I worked at The Tab and I've also written for Vice, Time Out, and worked freelance for The Telegraph (I know, but I needed the money at the time so let me live).
I also worked for ITV Cycling between 2011-2018 on their Tour de France and Vuelta a España coverage. Sometimes I'd be helping the producers make the programme and other times I'd be getting the lunches. Just in case you were wondering - Phil Liggett and Paul Sherwen had the same ham sandwich every day, it was great.
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