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After coming up short of the stage victory yesterday, Vincenzo Nibali made amends with a solo win at Prati di Tivo.
Nibali, Sagan and Basso head Italian squad
Nibali, the 2010 Vuelta a Espana winner and a two-time podium finisher at his home Giro d'Italia, is one of the Tour's pre-race general classification favourites and he returns to the French Grand Tour for the first time since he finished seventh overall in 2009. The 27-year-old Italian has had a solid year with a stage win and overall victory at Tirreno-Adriatico, a stage win and second overall finish at the Tour of Oman plus podium finishes at two of this season's Monuments: Milan-San Remo and Liège-Bastogne-Liège. Nibali has recently completed a final training camp at altitude and finished fifth in the Italian road championships one weekend prior to the Tour's start.
Peter Sagan will be making one of the most eagerly anticipated Tour de France debuts in recent memory during a season in which the 22-year-old Slovakian has been one of the sport's most prolific winners. Sagan won five stages at the Tour of California, followed by four stages at the Tour de Suisse. One weekend prior to the Tour's start in Liege, Belgium, Sagan won Slovakia's road championship for the second straight year. Sagan made his Grand Tour debut last year at the Vuelta a Espana, where he won three stages, and he should be in contention to win on a variety of terrain - from flat to mid-mountain stages.
The Grand Tour veteran Ivan Basso will provide a road captain's role for the team following his fifth place finish at this year's Giro d'Italia.
Daniel Oss, Kristijan Koren, Alessandro Vanotti and Sylwester Szmyd all provide Tour de France experience, while Frederick Canuti and Dominik Nerz will be making their Tour debuts.
"We are presenting a group determined and ready to support the aspirations of our captains," said directeur sportif Stefano Zanatta. "We will race the Tour de France firstly to accommodate the ambitions of Nibali and Sagan and we're well aware of the responsibilities that lie ahead.
"We will aim for a place of honor in general classification, supporting Vincent until the last stage, and we will try to put Peter in the best position to win at least one stage. In his (Sagan's) case, it is right to be ambitious but do not forget the difficulties and pressures of a race like the Tour, The role of Basso, finally, will be crucial for Nibali in the toughest stages. His experience and charisma will be essential in helping the team at times of pressure."
Liquigas-Cannondale for the Tour de France: Ivan Basso (Ita), Federico Canuti (Ita), Kristijan Koren (Slo), Vincenzo Nibali (Ita), Dominik Nerz (Ger), Daniel Oss (Ita), Peter Sagan (Svk), Sylwester Szmyd (Pol), Alessandro Vanotti (Ita)