Bradley Wiggins spearheads Team Sky’s nine-man line-up for the Giro d’Italia.
The British-based WorldTour team has announced a strong line-up to back the Tour de France champion in his bid to add a second Grand Tour victory to his palmares.
Wiggins, who is the only Brit in the line-up, will be supported by Dario Cataldo, Sergio Henao, Christian Knees, Danny Pate, Salvatore Puccio, Kanstantsin Siutsou, Rigoberto Uran and Xabier Zandio in a team built solely around Wiggins’ bid for maglia rosa, with no space for a sprinter in the team.
Columbian duo Uran and Henao, who finished seventh and ninth at the 2012 Giro, and Italian Cataldo, will provide Team Sky’s key firepower in the mountains.
Knees and Siutsou were both part of the squad which helped Wiggins to Tour de France victory and form the backbone of the team’s engine, along with experienced campaigners Zandio and Pate, while Puccio is set to make his Grand Tour debut.
Team Sky chief Dave Brailsford said: “We’ve had a good run into the Giro, have a strong squad and the preparation has gone well. The final touches have been put in place after the Giro del Trentino and we’re all set to go.
“It’s well-documented that the Giro has been a season goal for Bradley. With that in mind we want to get the best performance possible and try to win the race. If you work back from there you need support in the mountains and a strong nucleus of the team who can work hard.
“We’ve got quality climbing support and some really big engines too. There’s also the team time trial to think about and we’ve got a very strong squad.”
Wiggins became the first Briton to win the Tour de France in 2012 and has since turned his attention to achieving the same feat at the Giro d’Italia.
Wiggins arrived at last year’s Tour de France in the middle of a winning run which also saw him win Paris-Nice, the Tour de Romandie, the Criterium du Dauphine and Olympic time trial gold.
The 32-year-old, however, is yet to win a race in 2013, and was forced to settle for fifth at last week’s Giro del Trentino after a mechanical on the final summit finish.
But, with two individual time trials and a team time trial included in the Giro d’Italia, Wiggins will start the race as favourite alongside Astana’s Vincenzo Nibali.
Wiggins said: “Alongside the Tour de France and Paris-Roubaix, the Giro d’Italia is one of the biggest bike races in the world and one I’d love to win.
“I’ve watched the Giro since I was a kid and have seen my idols win it, which makes it even more special. It has always been a race that I’ve wanted to ride well in and I just can’t wait to get started.
“I believe the Giro team this year is just as strong as the Tour de France team last year and the results prove that everyone is ready to go.”
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