EF Education First are sending two Grand Tour debutants to the Giro d'Italia with an experienced group of teammates to guide them through the three-week race. American Sean Bennett, 23, and Ecuadoran Jonathan Caicedo, 26, will endure a "steep learning curve" and "redefine what it means to be extremely tired," says directeur sportif Charly Wegelius.
"A Grand Tour is a deep dip into cycling. Sean, like most first-time three-week-race riders, will find new limits," he added. "We're confident that he's got the skills to make the most of this chance but he's got no expectations on him. He's there to watch and learn."
Caicedo, too, will have no pressure on his shoulders. "He's a very quick learner and a smart guy on the bike. He's on the same kind of plan as Sean," Wegelius says.
Nate Brown, also named for the Giro, said he was "pretty stoked" that Bennett made the team. "I asked if we could room together because I think we'll get along great. Going into your first Grand Tour, you don't really know what to expect. I remember my first one and I had no idea what I was doing. If I can give Sean a bit of knowledge to help him get through, I'll have already accomplished something."
The team will rely on its more veteran riders to take whatever opportunities present themselves.
Joe Dombrowski, in his fourth Giro, is looking ahead to the mountainous final week where he has shown himself in the past.
"The harder mountain stages come in week three, and I like that epic blast in the final week. It's going to make for some good viewing," Dombrowski says.
Matti Breschel hopes to put a few tough years behind him and race his first Grand Tour since 2016.
"Matti had some health problems at the beginning of the Classics season," Wegelius says. "The doctors did a great job to get him back on track and salvage some of his Classics season, but without having raced all the cobbled races, he's got a lot more left in the tank than he would normally have. We'll put that fitness and his experience to good use. Having an older head in a young group of riders is really essential."
Hugh Carthy earned his bid for the Giro working in the Tour de Romandie for Michael Woods, while Tanel Kangert overcame illness in March that slowed him down in the Classics.
"Tanel has had a kind of a slow burn over the spring. He was sick at the beginning of March, which was probably a bit of a blessing in disguise considering his program coming up. We saw in Liège that he's coming into condition at just the right time. I hope that Tanel can take advantage of not having the big GC riders in the team, who he'd normally have to work for, and make the most of the chance that he gets."
Sprinter Sacha Modolo rounds out the team, and after a disappointing classics season, he's hoping to turn his season around.
"Sacha is coming off a pretty hard spring. Things haven't gone as he would have hoped up until now, but we have faith in him and when things don't turn the way you want them, apart from doing all the checks to ensure everything is the way it should be, you've just got to keep the faith really and keep repeating good practices and doing the right things," Wegelius concluded.