Italian Pro-Continental team Bardiani-CSF has announced its nine-rider squad of opportunists for the 99th edition of the Giro d'Italia. The team won a stage at the 2015 Giro with Nicola Boem and three in 2014 with Marco Canola, Enrico Battaglin and Stefano Pirazzi, with the latter also winning the king of the mountains classification.
Boem, Pirazzi and Amstel Gold Race runner-up Sonny Colbrelli lead the line for the wildcard team, as the experienced riders in the squad that includes four grand tour debutants.
"During the last races we had the chance to check the real form of the riders, a key factor to make our final decision," said the general manager of the team, Roberto Reverberi. "It's never easy to make choices, all the riders did their best to earn the call, but we're confident we assembled the best team possible. Giro d'Italia is our most prestigious race and we have already strong motivations to stand out."
Colbrelli won the team's first race of the season at 1.HC Gran Premio Città di Lugano in February with Pirazzi winning stage 4 of the Coppi e Bartali last month. At the Giro del Trentino last week, Giulio Ciccone wore the best young rider's jersey while Simone Andreetta also impressed before finishing 46th overall, with the two neo-pros sealing their case for selection. Paolo Simion and Mirco Maestri will also make their grand tour debuts after riding the Tour of Croatia last week.
"We're satisfied for what we did until today and for the approach we had to the Giro d'Italia," Sports director Stefano Zanatta said of the team selection. "During these months we made our choices considering also this important event. Riders have the form we expected and we have a good balance between experienced and rookies. We need to be a solid team because every day we'll have goal: attacking. Pirazzi, Bongiorno, Ciccone will be the men for the climbs.
Zanatta added the riders selected provide an option for stage wins beyond the climbs and expects another aggressive showing at the Corsa Rosa.
"Boem, Andreetta, Maestri and Simion are the riders for mixed stages, while Ruffoni is the leader for the sprints. At the end, we have the joker Colbrelli for finisseur or mixed stages. We'll have fierce competition around us, and we won't have fears to fight for a win. But being protagonist will depends only from our willing," he added.
The Giro d'Italia starts with a 9.8km time trial in the Dutch city of Apeldoorn on Friday, May 6 and concludes Sunday, May 29 in Torino.
Bardiani-CSF for the 2016 Giro d'Italia: Sonny Colbrelli, Stefano Pirazzi, Nicola Boem, Manuel Bongiorno, Nicola Ruffoni, Simone Andreetta, Paolo Simion, Giulio Ciccone and Mirco Maestri.