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A look at the school, the races and the future of this unique 'sport'
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Marcel Kittel (Giant-Simano).
Giant-Shimano announces a 12-rider long-list for the first Grand Tour
Kittel won four stages at the 2013 Tour de France and is keen to win in Italy in May to complete his collection of Grand Tour stage victories.
“Our first goal for the Giro d’Italia is to go for a stage [win] and there are plenty of early opportunities for this with the flat stages,” Kittel said in a press release from the team.
“I’ve had a good start this season and winning in Dubai with all the best sprinters was good for the confidence. I felt strong at the beginning of Tirreno, on Italian ground, so I’m now looking forward to getting off to a good start in one of the biggest races on the cycling calendar.”
The eight other riders that will support Kittel will be finalised close to the start of the Giro d'Italia (May 9-June 1). The race starts with a team time trial in Belfast but the other opening stages in Belfast and to Dublin, could be perfect for Kittel.
The 12-rider Giant-Shimano long-list includes Luka Mezgec, who has won the two opening stages at the Volta a Catalunya and several other strong riders who can provide an excellent leadout for Kittel in the sprints.
The 12 riders are Marcel Kittel, Nikias Arndt, Bert De Backer, Johannes Fröhlinger, Simon Geschke, Tobias Ludvigsson, Luka Mezgec, Tom Peterson, Georg Preidler, Tom Stamsnijder, Albert Timmer and Tom Veelers.
Kittel is expected to face Andre Greipel (Lotto Belisol) in the sprints at the Giro d'Italia. Mark Cavendish and his Omega Pharma-Quick Step team has yet to decide if he will return to the Giro d'Italia after winning five stages and the red points jersey in 2013.