Chris Froome to lead Team Sky in the 101st edition of the Giro d’Italia

Chris Froome to lead Team Sky in the 101st edition of the Giro d’Italia
Team Sky (Italy) – Chris Froome will lead Team Sky in the 101st edition of the Giro d’Italia (4-27 May).

The four-time Tour de France winner and reigning Vuelta a España champion will be supported in his attempts to win a maiden Giro title by David de la Cruz, Kenny Elissonde, Sergio Henao, Vasil Kiryienka, Christian Knees, Wout Poels and Salvatore Puccio.

Froome takes to the Giro d’Italia start line for the first time since 2010. Ahead of the Team’s departure to Jerusalem, Froome, who lived in Italy in the early part of his career, said: “I have always enjoyed racing in Italy and it has been great riding Tour of the Alps and Tirreno-Adriatico this year. The Giro is special and full of history, and I am looking forward to racing it again after almost a decade.

“I’ve had a different start to the season as I’ve obviously been aiming to try and reach my peak quite a bit earlier than usual. But the target of going for a third consecutive Grand Tour has given me new motivation.

“Of course there is an element of risk involved in targeting the Giro before the Tour, but I think I would regret it for the rest of my life if I didn’t give this race a go.

“I also recognise the wider issues and as I have said before I am doing everything I can, together with the Team, to help resolve them as quickly as possible. In the meantime I am focussed on racing. I would love to win the maglia rosa, but I am under no illusions whatsoever about how hard the race will be.”

Team Principal Sir Dave Brailsford said: “As a Team we have strong Italian connections through our owners, key partners, riders and staff and we love the Giro with all its tradition in one of the most beautiful settings in the world. We have been on the podium before but have never won the maglia rosa which is a great ambition for us.

“Chris is also going for a third consecutive Grand Tour. Everyone in cycling knows just how tough that is. We have a strong, talented and versatile team supporting him. Every rider will have an important contribution to make.

“This year’s race promises to be a very tough edition with some of the hardest mountain climbs in cycling including Mount Etna and the Zoncolan. It should make for a great spectacle for the fans and all provides an added incentive for us going into the race.”

The full Team Sky lineup for this year’s Giro d’Italia is:

Chris Froome – British – age 32:
The reigning Tour de France and Vuelta a Espana champion, Froome now takes aim at the Giro as he attempts to hold all three Grand Tour titles at the same time. Now widely considered as the best stage racer in the world, Froome will turn 33 during the Giro, which he tackles for the first time as a team leader. The race presents an exciting new challenge for the Brit, who will also target a fifth Tour de France title in July.

David de la Cruz – Spanish – age 28:
De La Cruz has quickly settled in during his first year with Team Sky. With a stage win at Paris-Nice already under his belt this season, the Spaniard is an elite climber and stage racer, as demonstrated by a superb seventh place finish at the Vuelta a Espana in 2016. A key part of the team’s climbing roster, expect to see De La Cruz setting a tough tempo in the race’s medium and high mountains.

Kenny Elissonde – French – age 26:
Fresh from a fantastic climbing performance at the Tour of the Alps, Elissonde arrives at the Giro in great form and will hope to once again play a key role for Chris Froome in the mountains. The Frenchman is a Grand Tour stage winner in his own right, winning the queen stage of the Vuelta in 2013, and will line up at his second consecutive Giro in Team Sky colours.

Sergio Henao – Colombian – age 30:
The Colombian national champion is one of the best climbers in the world and claimed the biggest win of his career at Paris-Nice last season. Henao picked up a top-10 finish at the Giro during his first ever Grand Tour appearance back in 2012. Since then he has established himself in the mountains, and after a consistent Ardennes Classic campaign he has the form to provide key support for Froome.

Vasil Kiryienka – Belarusian – age 36:
Lining up for his 19th Grand Tour, and seventh Giro, Kiryienka brings an abundance of experience to the roster. One of the most impressive rouleurs in the sport, the Belarusian is comfortable setting a torrid pace at the head of the peloton, both on the flat and on the climbs. The former time trial world champion is also a three-time stage winner at the Giro d’Italia.

Christian Knees – German – age 37:
Bringing power and experience to the team, the German played a key wingman role for Chris Froome last season at both his Tour and Vuelta victories. The duo team up again for the third Grand Tour in succession, with Knees using the knowledge gained over 18 Grand Tours to play the all-important road captain role. The former German national champion is a reassuring presence on the flat, as well as very able climber.

Wout Poels – Dutch – age 30:
Another impressive climbing talent, Poels secured his best ever Grand Tour finish of sixth place last year at the Vuelta a Espana. The Dutchman achieved that while supporting Chris Froome and has been a key super domestique in three of the Brit’s Grand Tour victories. Winner of Liege-Bastogne-Liege in 2016, Poels is riding back into form after sustaining a broken collarbone at Paris-Nice.

Salvatore Puccio – Italian – age 28:
The versatile Italian has been improving year on year since joining the team back in 2012. Now on the verge of his ninth Grand Tour appearance, Puccio has proven he can play a role on flat, rolling or mountain roads. Puccio came within a whisker of a stage victory in the 2015 edition of the Vuelta, and his Classics know-how should also prove key in the hustle and bustle of a peloton fighting for position.

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