Contador is awaiting a verdict from the Court of Arbitration for Sport regarding his positive test for Clenbuterol at last year’s Tour de France, but in the meantime he is free to race. The Spaniard is favoured to repeat his 2008 Giro d'Italia triumph.
As expected, Contador will be able to count on his most trusted lieutenants Daniel Naverro and Jesus Hernandez in Italy. The duo joined Saxo Bank from Astana along with their leader ahead of the 2011 season.
One of the revelations of last year’s Giro, Richie Porte, is also part of a solid line-up. The Australian wore the maglia rosa in 2010, and finished seventh overall and best young rider in Verona.
“We enter the Giro with a very strong and motivated squad,” team manager Bjarne Riis said. “The final selection has not been easy as we have many strong cards on our hands but one thing is certain – this line-up is top tuned and highly motivated to win and they are strong enough to pull it off.
“We are well-prepared, we want to make a difference in the race and the race will undoubtedly be a thrill to witness and I'm looking forward to being a part of it.”
Although this year’s Giro d'Italia route appears to reward climbing ability over time trialling acumen, the race begins with a 19.3km team time trial that could see some early gaps develop. To that end, Saxo Bank-SunGard’s team includes a number of strong rouleurs, including Porte and Michael Mørkøv.
“My main role in the race is to protect and to set a high pace on the flat stretches but I'm also here to support the team in the team time trial where we have a good chance to finish on the top step of the podium,” Mørkøv said. “This is a dream come true for me. It's one thing to do one of the major tours but to be in the line-up of guys to support a rider like Alberto is something else.”
The Saxo Bank-SunGard team for the Giro d’Italia is: Alberto Contador, Kasper Klostergaard, Jesus Hernandez, Daniel Navarro, Michael Mørkøv, Matteo Tosatto, Laurent Didier, Richie Porte and Volodymir Gustov.