Mark Cavendish spearheads Team Sky’s Giro d’Italia line-up, with five British riders included in the nine-man squad for the first Grand Tour of the season.
Cavendish, who is currently riding the Tour de Romandie, will be joined by Peter Kennaugh, Ian Stannard, Ben Swift and Geraint Thomas, while Bernhard Eisel, Juan Antonio Flecha, Sergio Henao and Rigoberto Urán complete the roster.
World champion Cavendish will be making his fourth Giro appearance, looking to add to his tally of seven stage wins as he continues his preparation for the Tour de France and the Olympic road race, while Thomas and Kennaugh are undertaking their final block of road racing before returning to the track for the Games.
“The Giro is one of my favourite races of the season and I’m very happy to be riding it,” said Cavendish. “We’ve got a good squad to go and win stages. Geraint, Pete and Swifty have just come off the track so they should have that explosive power which will be important in the first week, and the rest of the team have all done well in the Classics.
“We want to win the team time trial as well and hopefully that will get us the pink jersey. If we could achieve that it would be a massive honour for the team.
“It should be a really good three weeks because we’re all friends and have a good understanding on the road. The Tour de Romandie has allowed me to get some miles in the legs so come the start in Denmark I’ll be raring to go.”
The 2012 Giro starts with a team time trial in Denmark on Saturday May 5 before two road stages in the country. The race then transfers to Italy, finishing with an individual time trial in Milan on Monday May 21.
Thomas, who returned to road racing with a bang, winning the opening prologue of the Tour de Romandie, said:
“I’m really looking forward to the Giro, especially as I haven’t ridden a great deal on the road this season. I took part in the race once before in 2008 and found it to be a lot less stressful than the Tour de France. The atmosphere is fantastic and Italy is a special country to ride in.”
And directeur sportif Steven de Jongh has declared himself happy with the balance of the team for the three-week race: “We have a very strong squad here which we feel can be competitive on several fronts. In Mark Cavendish we have the fastest sprinter in the world and he will be looking to get some stage wins under his belt as quickly as possible.
“The team time trial is another big target of ours and we’ll definitely be looking to show what we can do there as well.
“Once the race hits the mountains Rigoberto and Sergio will become our focus and if Rigo can continue the good form he showed over the spring then he is more than capable of achieving a high placing in the general classification.”
Team Sky’s Giro d’Italia squad
Juan Antonio Flecha