Giro d'Italia: Nizzolo to take on Sagan and Ewan in sprint stages

ROQUETAS DE MAR SPAIN FEBRUARY 14 Arrival Giacomo Nizzolo of Italy and Team Team Qhubeka Assos Celebration during the 34th Clsica de Almeria 2021 a 1833km race from Pueblo de Vicar to Roquetas de Mar ClasicaAlmeria21 on February 14 2021 in Roquetas de Mar Spain Photo by Tim de WaeleGetty Images
(Image credit: Getty Images Sport)

Giacomo Nizzolo will lead Qhubeka Assos into the Giro d’Italia, with the reigning Italian and European road race champion looking to claim his first stage win in the race. 

Twice a winner of the points competition in his home Grand Tour, Nizzolo won the Clásica de Almería earlier in the year and has been his team’s most consistent performer for the last two years. 

After a string of top-10 results in the spring Classics, the 32-year-old will be looking to turn his consistency into victories in the Giro, which starts on May 8 in Turin.

"The Giro is one of the most important races of the year for me and especially this year because of the jerseys that I wear; racing on the Italian roads is really special. I've been watching this race since I was a kid so it's always a privilege to be a part of the show," Nizzolo said.

"Twice winning the points jersey has been very special and on reflection makes me really happy and proud. This year the goal is to win a stage and then see how I feel over the course of the race. I feel good ahead of the race, ready, and I've been training well. I had a good first part of the season where I've felt good and had some solid performances so I'm confident that I can perform well. First of all I want to fight and do my best and then we will see what the road will bring."

Nizzolo will face tough competition in the sprints, with Caleb Ewan (Lotto Soudal) and Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe) also on the start list for the first Grand Tour of the season, but the Italian is motivated by both his own ambitions but also the ethos behind his team.

"We race for Qhubeka - every single day - and even when not racing this is top of mind," Nizzolo said. "We know how important this is for people that we continue to live the message that bicycles change lives. I'm super proud to wear the European jersey and being the Italian champion with this message on my shoulders.

"I really hope that the Italian people will appreciate our efforts on the road, these are hugely important reasons for us to be proud ahead of the start of the Giro."

Joining Nizzolo on the team will be Max Walscheid, Mauro Schmid, Bert-Jan Lindeman, Lukasz Wisniowski, Victor Campenaerts, Domenico Pozzovivo and Kilian Frankiny. 

Pozzovivo will lead the team’s GC challenge, with the veteran 38-year-old set to race his 15th Giro d’Italia. He has finished in the top-10 on five occasions but narrowly missed out on repeating that in 2020 when he finished 11th.

"The racing experience we have through the likes of Lukasz and Bert-Jan will be invaluable, while Kilian showed himself really well last year and this year he will ride in support of Domenico Pozzovivo," said director Gabriele Missaglia.

"For Pozzo, well he's certainly not getting any younger but we know that he is an incredible fighter, and will show himself and the team to the best of his ability. While in Max and Victor we have guys who not only time trial well but also can play multiple roles across the stages, so I'm excited and optimistic as to what they will offer us."

Pozzovivo has set his pre-race ambitions on yet another top-10 overall. However, after a recent surgery, he knows that he’s still below his very best form.

"Starting a Giro for the 15th time is something I never imagined I could achieve when I started racing. My goal for the race remains a place in the top-10 of the general classification, even if after my most recent surgery I'm still looking to find my best shape. That said, I've seen some encouraging good signs from my last races," he said.

"The Giro is the race I dreamed to race when I was child, and the race where I have achieved my best performances. It's always a race that gives me incredible motivation."

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