Saxo-Tinkoff has named its team for the Giro d’Italia, with young Polish rider Rafal Majka the leader for the general classification and Matti Breschel heading the charge for stage victories.
Now in his third season as a professional, Majka’s best results to date came at the tail end of last season, when he was 7th overall in the Tour of Beijing and 3rd at the Japan Cup. Directeur sportif Lars Michaelsen believes that the 23-year-old’s performance at last year’s Vuelta a España – where he finished 32nd overall after riding in the service of Alberto Contador – augurs well for his Giro debut.
“Even though he is still very young, we believe he is capable of finishing amongst the 10-15 best riders in the GC, if he has hit his peak form, and he could also be a contender for the young rider's jersey,” Michaelsen said. “Rafal is very much looking forward to the last tough week of the race, and I really hope he will show his great potential in the mountains, like we saw it in last year's Vuelta.”
Rory Sutherland and Bruno Pires will support Majka in the mountains, while three-time Giro d’Italia stage winner Daniele Bennati will be designated to protect him on the flat. The Tuscan has had a subdued start to life at Saxo-Tinkoff and Michaelsen said that he would use the corsa rosa to hone his condition for later in the campaign. “At his best Daniele is a proven winner in Grand Tour stages, but his primary goals this year are later in the season, so the most important thing for him is to keep building his form and help support Rafal on the windy and flat stages.”
Instead, the burden of chasing stage victory is likely to fall to Matti Breschel and Manuele Boaro, who has shown sustained flashes of his form at the Tour de Romandie this week, while there is also a berth on the team for the experienced Karsten Kroon.
Saxo-Tinkoff for the Giro d’Italia: Rory Sutherland (Australia), Mads Christensen (Denmark), Matti Breschel (Denmark), Karsten Kroon (Holland), Daniele Bennati (Italy), Manuele Boaro (Italy), Rafal Majka (Poland), Bruno Pires (Portugal), Evgeny Petrov (Russia).