97th edition set to start in Belfast on 9 May
Team Sky’s line-up for the 2014 Giro d’Italia, which starts in Belfast and Dublin next month, will include Irish rider Philip Deignan in his first Grand Tour for the team.
The nine-strong team for the first Grand Tour of the season will also feature Italian riders Dario Cataldo and Salvatore Puccio alongside Pete Kennaugh, Ben Swift, Edvald Boasson Hagen, Bernhard Eisel, Sebastian Henao and Kanstantsin Siutsou.
This year’s Giro d’Italia starts with three stages outside Italy, taking in Northern Ireland and Ireland. Starting with a time trial in Belfast on Friday 9 May the race will move on to Italy from Tuesday 13 May with the last of the 21 stages in Trieste on Sunday 1 June.
On confirming the team 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.”
The nine riders selected for the 2014 Giro d’Italia are:
Edvald Boasson Hagen – age 26 – Norway
Returning to the scene of his Grand Tour debut back in 2009, the multi-talented Norwegian excels both in the sprints and setting a tempo on the climbs. He is a former stage winner at the Giro d’Italia.
Dario Cataldo – age 29 – Italy
The previous Italian TT champion will line up for an impressive seventh Grand Tour start at his home race. Two 12th placed finishes at the Giro d’Italia demonstrate not only class but also consistency.
Philip Deignan – age 30 – Ireland
The Irishman recently returns from a broken collarbone, Deignan is a strong climber, not to mention a Grand Tour stage winner at the Vuelta a Espana.
Bernhard Eisel – age 33 – Austria
One of the most experienced and well-respected competitors in the peloton, the 33-year-old Austrian brings horsepower and speed, as well as knowledge gained from 14 previous Grand Tour outings.
Sebastian Henao – age 20 – Colombia
Making his Grand Tour debut in his first season as a professional, a string of assured climbing performances sees the Colombian rewarded with a start at the biggest race of his career.
Pete Kennaugh – age 24 – Great Britain
Following a strong 2013, the Manxman starts his third Giro d’Italia climbing strongly and fresh from recent victory at Settimana Coppi e Bartali.
Salvatore Puccio – age 24 – Italy
A year on from famously donning the Maglia Rosa leader’s jersey in his Grand Tour debut, the Italian returns to his home race a stronger and more well-rounded rider.
Kanstantsin Siutsou – age 31 – Belarus
Another former stage winner at the Giro d’Italia, the Belarusian tasted success one day after teammate Boasson Hagen back in 2009. A top-10 finisher in the event, ‘Kosta’ is a valuable asset in any three-week stage race.
Ben Swift – age 26 – Great Britain
Currently riding with good form including sprint victories and a podium at Milan-San Remo, the Brit will hope to put his fast finish to good use as he hones in on a landmark Grand Tour stage win.
Irishman Philip Deignan, added: “As soon as I heard that the Giro d’Italia was starting in Northern Ireland it was a goal of mine to be there, and racing there with Team Sky is a real honour for me. We’re going with a good balance of youth and experience; we’re all looking forward to it. Growing up in County Donegal I never dreamt of riding a Grand Tour here in Ireland and this is my chance. I’m going to relish every minute of it racing in front of my friends and family.”
Team Sky’s Dario Cataldo said: “This will be my seventh appearance in the Giro d’Italia, so it is a race that has a place in my heart. The race has a great history in Italy and when I was growing up it was always a dream to ride in my home country. Without a doubt it was the race that inspired me to start riding a bike as a young boy, so for an Italian bike rider this is as good as it gets. We have a strong and exciting team going into the race and we’re all looking forward to the challenge ahead. For me, going home to race is always a pleasure and I can’t wait to get started.”