Romain Bardet and Jai Hindley have yet to confirm whether they will participate at the 2021 Giro d’Italia, but both riders will line out at the Tour of the Alps this month after Team DSM secured a late invitation to the race.
Team DSM will replace the Italian national squad, which returned its invitation after struggling to find available riders at this point of the season. The Tour of the Alps returns after a one-year hiatus and takes place from April 19-23. The organisation has confirmed that COVID-19 restrictions will not impact on the route, which features stages in Italy and Austria.
“Due to the overlapping of different events, in recent days Italian National Team coach Davide Cassani admitted his difficulty in identifying a group of available riders that could be competitive in the top-level challenge of this year's Tour of the Alps,” the race’s general manager Maurizio Evangelista said in a statement.
“The scratch of the Italian National Team has put us in the position to reconsider the request of Team DSM, which had expressed its interest in participating a few days earlier.”
DSM become the 13th WorldTour team on the Tour of the Alps start list, with both Bardet and Hindley set to participate in the five-day race. Both Bardet and Hindley have yet to reveal their Grand Tour plans for 2021.
“Team DSM's manager [Iwan] Spekenbrink told us that both Bardet and Hindley are very motivated to test themselves on our routes, certainly suitable for two talented riders with great climbing skills,” said Evangelista.
Hindley, who placed second at last year’s Giro, told reporters at Paris-Nice last month that his team was keen to keep his Grand Tour plans under wraps for the time being. “I’ve got to keep it on the hush-hush,” he said. The Australian placed 18th overall at Paris-Nice and then abandoned the Volta a Catalunya after three stages.
Bardet placed 8th overall at Tirreno-Adriatico when he said that a decision on his Grand Tour plans was likely to be taken by the end of March.
“It’s not all decided yet,” Bardet said, according to France Bleu. “That may seem a bit late, but first we are making sure that I fit in well with the team without focusing on a fixed race programme. It will be either the Giro or the Tour de France. We’ll take stock at the end of March.”
A number of confirmed Giro participants will look to fine-tune their form at the Tour of the Alps, including Egan Bernal (Ineos), Simon Yates (Team BikeExchange), Vincenzo Nibali (Trek-Segafredo), and Thibaut Pinot (Groupama-FDJ), while Nairo Quintana (Arkéa-Samsic) and Chris Froome (Israel Start-Up Nation) are also on the provisional start list.
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