Vincenzo Nibali (Astana) will go head-to-head with Alejandro Valverde (Movistar), Mikel Landa (Team Sky), Rafal Majka (Tinkoff) and Esteban Chaves (Orica-GreenEdge) in his quest to win a second Giro d’Italia title.
The Astana leader is one of the big names on the provisionals start list released by Giro organiser RCS Sport, which also includes Marcel Kittel (Etixx-Quick Step), Andre Greipel (Lotto-Soudal) and Fabian Cancellara (Trek-Segafredo).
The general classification battle promises to be fascinating, with Landa looking to improve on his third-place finish last year, while Valverde rides his first ever Giro.
Majka will be further hoping to prove his leadership credentials after finishing third overall at the Vuelta a España last year, while Domenico Pozzovivo (Ag2r La Mondiale) will be looking to bounce back from an early crash that left him with severe facial injuries in last year’s race.
The route for the 2016 Giro d’Italia
Tom Dumoulin (Giant-Alpecin) could be up there in the general classification conversations after his heroics at the Vuelta, but the Dutchman will be looking for results on the prologue and long time trial through the Chianti region.
The sprint competition also looks to be fierce, with Kittel and Greipel set to face off with Arnaud Démare (FDJ), Elia Viviani (Team Sky), Sacha Modolo (Lampre-Merida) and Caleb Ewan (Orica-GreenEdge).
The race starts in the Apeldoorn, Netherlands, on May 6 with three stages in the country before returning to Italy. The winner will be crowned on May 29 on the final stage in Turin.