Lopez leads strong Astana team in Giro d'Italia

Ion Izagirre and Bilbao to support Colombian in Grand Tour victory bid

After finishing third last year, Miguel Angel Lopez (Astana) will look to take a few steps up on the final podium of the Giro d'Italia and claim the top position. The Colombian rider comes in as one of the major favourites and will be supported a strong team of climbers in the season's first Grand Tour.

The 25-year-old made his first Grand Tour podium when he finished third in the Giro in 2018, and taking the young rider classification in the process. He confirmed his status as a serious contender with he repeated his podium place in the Vuelta a Espana later in the year. It was his second visit to the top 10 after finishing eighth in 2017, winning two stages and the young rider ranking.

This year he already has two stage race titles under his belt, winning his first stage outing at the Tour Colombia in February and the Volta a Catalunya in March. Lopez has not ridden since Catalunya, choosing to stay in Colombia in the build-up to the Giro d'Italia. 

He will have experienced support on the climbs with Ion Izagirre and Pello Bilbao, both of whom finished in the top 10 in Grand Tours last year. Izagirre finished the Vuelta a Espana in ninth for Bahrain-Merida, and Bilbao was sixth overall in the Giro. Both have been performing well this season also with Izagirre taking overall victory at the Itzulia Basque Country and the Volta a la Comunitat Valenciana, as well as second at the Ruta del Sol and taking a stage win at Paris-Nice. Meanwhile, Bilbao finished fourth at the Ruta del Sol and won a stage of the Vuelta a Murcia.

The squad is rounded out by Manuele Boaro, Dario Cataldo, Jan Hirt, Davide Villella, and Andrey Zeits. The Giro d'Italia will begin this Saturday with an eight-kilometre time trial in Bologna and will finish with a time trial in Verona on June 2. 

Astana for the Giro d'Italia: Miguel Angel Lopez, Ion Izagirre, Pello Bilbao, Manuele Boaro, Dario Cataldo, Jan Hirt, Davide Villella, and Andrey Zeits.

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