Ben O’Connor and Giacomo Nizzolo will headline the Dimension Data team at this year’s Giro d’Italia. O’Connor will be heading the team’s GC bid, while Nizzolo is targeting stage victories in the sprint.
The team will also include Mark Renshaw, who has been on the comeback trail since breaking his pelvis during a training crash in the off-season. Renshaw made his return at the Driedaagse De Panne-Brugge in March and has since raced Scheldeprijs and the Tour de Yorkshire.
Having started the race as a support rider for Louis Meintjes, O’Connor was one of the star performers at last year’s Giro d’Italia. His performance was a ray of light in a difficult season for Dimension Data, but his race ended abruptly when he crashed on stage 19. He had been sitting just outside the top 10 at that point. The Australian has taken a slightly different approach to the Giro d’Italia, taking on the Tour of Turkey last month. He finished a disappointing 19th but told Cyclingnews that he was in similar shape to this time last year.
The 24-year-old, Amanuel Ghebreigzhabier will be the only other climber in the eight-man team, though Danilo Wyss will be there for support. Following his early departure, O’Connor said that he had unfinished business as the race start in Bologna looms large.
“The Giro d’Italia again – and I have unfinished business I guess. Obviously, I’m aiming for a top GC result or even perhaps the Young Rider jersey but actually putting it on paper this year,” said O’Connor. “Maybe the results haven’t shown exactly how I would like so far, but I’m confident I’ve done all I can to be competitive and show Dimension Data and all our partners around Italy.
“It’s a special race: the vibrancy, colour, passion, noise...it has it all. The boys and myself can’t wait to get this show on the road.”
New signing Nizzolo will be looking to add stage wins to the two points classifications he’s previously taken at the Giro d’Italia. Despite claiming the points title in 2015 and 2016, Nizzolo has not yet won a stage at the Italian Grand Tour. Nizzolo was one of the several new signings over the winter period and has so far brought the team one stage win at the Tour of Oman.
“Like with every year the Giro d’Italia is one of the biggest goals of the season,” said Nizzolo. “Of course, I will try to go for victory in some stages as well as from a team perspective target a good result in the GC. It looks like this year, more than ever, that there are a lot of competitors particularly in the sprints but I’m ready to fight, and I feel ready to target those stage wins.
“Racing in Italy for an Italian rider is always special so I’m really looking forward to racing on the Italian roads and seeing a lot of fans supporting us over the course of the three weeks.”
Providing the team with another option in the sprints, and support for Nizzolo, will be Ryan Gibbons – who rode both the Giro d’Italia and the Vuelta a Espana last year. Renshaw will be in Italy to play a key role in the lead out. Completing the team will be Enrico Gasparotto and Scott Davies, who is making his Grand Tour debut.
Dimension Data for the Giro d’Italia: Giacomo Nizzolo, Ben O’Connor, Enrico Gasparotto, Ryan Gibbons, Danilo Wyss, Mark Renshaw, Amanuel Ghebreigzabhier and Scott Davies.