Bahrain-Merida have named the seven men that will ride in support of Vincenzo Nibali at the Giro d'Italia as the Italian looks to become the oldest rider to win the Italian Grand Tour. A win would be his third Giro d'Italia success, after victories in 2013 and 2016, and his fifth overall Grand Tour win with tiles at the Tour de France and Giro d'Italia.
Nibali missed the Giro last season to focus on the Tour de France but he has shaped the first half of his year around the Italian race this spring.
"The Giro is my great goal for the first part of the season and my preparation has been designed to be ready at the start of the Italian race. I feel ready to start this great adventure," he said. "The opponents are many, but I will be at start in Bologna with a lot of serenity and confidence; it will be the road to decide which will have been the best."
For the 34-year-old Italian, it will be this 21st career Grand Tour. "Fortunately, I don't feel old and I still think I'm up for three weeks of hard racing. I've got a few extra wrinkles and a few grey hairs, but it's not time to put me out to grass just yet."
Nibali suffered a fractured vertebra after crashing due to spectator interference on the 2018 Alpe d'Huez stage of the Tour de France. Upon his return he was able to race at the Vuelta a Espana, and he ended the season with a second place finish in Il Lombardia.
This year his form has shown steady improvement. He went from an anonymous 35th place in the UAE Tour to top tens in Milan-San Remo, Tour of the Alps and Liege-Bastogne-Liege.
"This is a very important appointment during our season which we are all very excited about, we have worked hard to get to the start of this Giro with the best possible team," said general Brent Copeland.
"Vincenzo has worked tremendously hard to the build up of this race and his physical condition is at one of the best I have seen in years before a Grand tour, the rest of the team are all in just as good shape and therefore we are sure we will contribute to some very exciting racing for the fans and cycling in general."
Nibali will be supported in the race by his brother Antonio, Damiano Caruso, Andrea Garosia, Grega Bole, Kristijan Koren, Valerio Agnoli and Domenico Pozzovivo.
Pozzovivo had to miss Liege-Bastogne-Liege and the Tour of Romandie after suffering a concussion in a crash at Fleche Wallonne. “Fortunately, the consequences of the crash at Fleche Wallone were less severe than was thought at the beginning and therefore the preparation continued without any particular problems. My task will be to help Vincenzo and, for this year, not aiming at the GC. This role will also give me the opportunity to try to win a stage.
Bahrain-Merida for the Giro d'Italia: Vincenzo Nibali, Antonio Nibali, Damiano Caruso, Andrea Garosia, Grega Bole, Kristijan Koren, Valerio Agnoli and Domenico Pozzovivo