Team Sky name Peter Kennaugh and Ben Swift in Giro d'Italia squad

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Team Sky name Peter Kennaugh and Ben Swift in Giro d’Italia squad

Irishman Philip Deignan joins young Brits in team likely to be led by Dario Cataldo

Peter Kennaugh and Ben Swift will roll out for Team Sky in Belfast at the Grande Partenza of the Giro d’Italia next month.

The two British riders will form part of a nine-man squad that will also include Irishman, Philip Deignan.

Peter Kennaugh rode superbly at last year’s Criterium du Dauphine and Tour de France, but has struggled to find his best form this season. Will selection for the Giro cost him a place in Sky’s Tour de France squad? pic: ©Sirotti

Dario Cataldo looks likely to lead the team, which also includes flat-land pace setters, Kanstantsin Siutsou and Bernie Eisel, and all-rounders, Edvald Boasson Hagen and Salvatore Puccio. Twenty-year-old Colombian climbing sensation, Sebastian Henao, completes the line-up.

Team principal, Sir Dave Brailsford, said: “The Giro d’Italia is a fantastic race and this year provides a great opportunity for the team to go out and really express themselves on the bike.

“We’ve brought together an exciting squad and we can’t wait, not only for the start in Northern Ireland, but to perform in front of our Italian fans.”

Team Sky salvaged a  creditable second place overall for Rigoberto Uran at last year’s Giro after a disastrous campaign from nominated leader, Sir Bradley Wiggins, who abandoned after stage 12. Wiggins’ absence from the Giro squad may raise his hopes of selection for the Tour de France, which starts in Yorkshire on Sunday July 5.

Ritchie Porte had been expected to lead Sky at the Giro, but the Tasmanian has suffered with illness throughout the early season and announced earlier this month that he would not contest the Italian national tour.

Kennaugh’s selection represents the most interesting aspect of today’s announcement. The 24-year-old Manxman was one of the revelations of last year’s Tour, where he confidently guided Froome and Porte through the mountains. He has begun this year in poor form, however, and abandoned La Fleche Wallonne yesterday.

Ben Swift has enjoyed the best season of his career, winning at Coppi e Bartali and the Tour of the Basque Country. pic: ©Sirotti

Swift will contest his third Grand Tour, after riding in the 2011 Tour de France and the 2012 Vuelta a Espana. His selection for the Giro is likely to rule him out of a place on Sky’s Tour de France squad. While in excellent form, few riders in the modern era attempt two Grand Tours in a season.

Unlike the Tour de France, where Sky is likely to start with defending champion, Chris Froome, barring disaster, the British team will not be among the favourites for overall victory at the Giro.

BMC Racing will field the 2011 Tour de France champion, Cadel Evans, who has shown impressive early season form. The Australian finished second overall at the Tour Down Under after winning stage three, and leads the Giro del Trentino, regarded as a key form-finder for the Giro.

Tens of thousands of fans are expected to line the route for the three stages of the Grande Partenza, which begins with a team time trial in Belfast on Friday May 9. The following stage will take the riders on a 219km  loop from Belfast on Saturday May 10, while on Sunday May 11, stage three will begin in Armagh and cross the border into Ireland for a finish in Dublin – hometown of Giro hall of famer, Stephen Roche, who won the race in 1987.

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Team Sky – Giro d’Italia 2014

Edvald Boasson Hagen (26) – Norway
Dario Cataldo (29) – Italy
Philip Deignan (30) – Ireland
Bernhard Eisel (33) – Austria
Sebastian Henao (20) – Colombia
Peter Kennaugh (24) – Great Britain
Salvatore Puccio (24) – Italy
Kanstantsin Siutsou (31) – Belarus
Ben Swift (26) – Great Britain

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