Egan Bernal will spearhead a strong Ineos Grenadiers team at the Giro d'Italia with the 2019 Tour de France winner looking to win his second Grand Tour. The race begins in Turin on May 8 with a time trial and concludes in Milan on May 30 with another test against the clock. According to the team, Bernal will share leadership alongside Pavel Sivakov.
Bernal and Sivakov will be well supported in the mountains with Jonathan Castroviejo, and Daniel Martinez part of Ineos' eight-rider squad. Time trial world champion Filippo Ganna, and Salvatore Puccio, Jhonatan Narvaez, and Gianni Moscon have also been included in the team but last year's winner Tao Geoghegan Hart is not part of the squad with the British rider, as expected, heading to the Tour de France later this summer.
Bernal saw his Tour de France defense end in defeat last year when he was forced to abandon the race with a back injury. He used the winter to try and find a long-term solution to the injury and has shown signs of his old form in recent months with a string of impressive results. He was third overall in the Tour de la Provence and then backed up that result with second in Trofeo Laiguegli and third in Strade Bianche. He was fourth in Tirreno-Adriatico but has not raced in March, instead choosing to remain in Colombia and fine-tune his final preparations ahead of the first Grand Tour of the season.
"My objective for the Giro this year is to get back to being the Egan who likes to attack, the Egan who isn’t afraid of getting dropped," Bernal told La Gazzetta dello Sport earlier this year.
"I’m preparing myself 100 per cent to arrive well at the Giro, but obviously the others are preparing themselves to win, too. I won’t be racing alone."
Bernal will share leadership with his former U23 rival Pavel Sivakov. The Russian, who made his debut in the Giro d'Italia two years ago, finished inside the top ten after a string of strong rides in the mountains, and in April finished sixth overall in the Tour of the Alps.
Sivakov recently told Cyclingnews that he would lend his support to Bernal in the mountains and that the Colombian would head into the race as Ineos' prime candidate for victory. However, he also added that he would have more freedom within the race.
“I think it’s good to have different options,” Sivakov told Cyclingnews in an exclusive interview.
“Obviously, Egan will be the number one. That’s without a doubt. He won the Tour de France and many more wins than me. I know he’s number one but if I can show progression then it’s good for the team to have someone else to rely on. The racing in the Giro is more open, so having two guys is also helpful. If there’s a day when I have to sacrifice my chances for him to win the race then I’ll do it, without doubt, but there might also be some opportunities. It’s cycling and anything can happen.
“For me, the Giro is an important part of that process for my GC development. After last year’s Tour, I first thought that I wanted to go back and have a kind of revenge but obviously, we have so much strength in our team that I would have been mountain support there. We sat down with the team and we realized that the Giro would be a much better option because there’s more freedom and more chances to do something myself. It’s a good step for me. People think I have that potential, I think I have it but now I have to prove it. But of course, the race situation can change if Egan has the jersey, but I’ll prepare for it 100 per cent.”
Martinez and Castroviejo will add some much-needed steel and experience to the climbing contingent within the Giro d'Italia team, while Narvaez returns to the race after winning the Cesenatico stage in last year's race.
There is no place for Ivan Sosa, who was originally on the Ineos long list for the race, while Eddie Dunbar, Ben Swift, Owain Doull, Andrey Amador, and Sebastian Henao – all of whom were in the conversation for a spot – have also missed out on selection.
Salvatore Puccio, who has raced the Giro d’Italia seven times during his long career, and wore the maglia rosa back in 2013, is set to be the team’s road captain. One of the most loyal and underrated domestiques in the peloton, the Italian can fill many roles, and at 31 is one of the most experienced riders on the team after racing the Giro every year but once since 2013.
Ineos Grenadiers Giro d'Italia 2021 lineup:
- Egan Bernal
- Pavel Sivakov
- Filippo Ganna
- Jonathan Castroviejo
- Jhonatan Narvaez
- Salvatore Puccio
- Gianni Moscon
- Daniel Martintez
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