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The Movistar and Lampre-Merida teams named their squads for the upcoming Giro d'Italia today. Movistar has pulled together a team of riders solely dedicated to supporting overall contender Nairo Quintana.
Quintana will be joined on the start line in Belfast on May 9 by Jonathan Castroviejo, Andrey Amador, José Herrada, Adriano Malori, Eros Capecchi, Gorka Izagirre, Igor Antón and Francisco Ventoso.
"This year we're bringing a strong leader in Nairo, and the whole team has been selected to support him," team manager Eusebio Unzué said.
"He will be surrounded by a group full of experienced teammates, in good form, committed and convinced about the goal we're setting on ourselves for this race. All of them, except for Castroviejo and Gorka, already know the Giro, and that's crucial. As in any Grand Tour, and even more so in Italy, where the topology makes every stage unpredictable, you can win or lose the race anywhere. The overall result will be decided in the final week, which is brutal. It will test the strength and freshness every leader maintains until that point, because those final days are super demanding."
Unzué has confidence that Quintana can contend for the overall final podium, despite having no prior experience with the Giro d'Italia.
"There might be some other contenders who are less strong, yet have a lot more experience than Nairo," he said "It might be possible, yes, but it's going to be really hard; that why I saw that, in principle, we have to aim for the podium."
Unzué counts among the top challengers to be Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha), Cadel Evans (BMC), Michele Scarponi (Astana) as well as other up-and-coming riders like Rigoberto Uran (Omega Pharma-Quickstep), Domenico Pozzovivo (AG2R La Mondiale and Daniel Martin (Garmin-Sharp).
Although they were named on the team's long-list, Sylwester Szmyd and Pablo Lastras have not been chosen to compete in the Giro d'Italia. Lastras actually ruled himself out following several weeks of altitude training in Navacerrada: "Eusebio wanted me to be there, but I'm physically wasted. It's being one of the hardest moments in my racing career," Lastras said. "I'll miss my teammates a lot."
Lampre-Merida will be lead by Przemyslaw Niemiec, who finished sixth in last year's race. There is no Chris Horner in the line-up after the American crashed during a training ride in Italy last month.
Movistar for the Giro d'Italia: Nairo Quintana, Jonathan Castroviejo, Andrey Amador, José Herrada, Adriano Malori, Eros Capecchi, Gorka Izagirre, Igor Antón and Francisco Ventoso.
Lampre-Merida for the Giro d'Italia: The team will debut Winner Anacona and Jan Polanc, while veterans Matteo Bono, Damiano Cunego, Roberto Ferrari, Przemyslaw Niemiec, and Manuele Mori will be joined by young riders Diego Ulissi and Mattia Cattaneo.