The Quick-Step Floors team has announced its line-up for the 2017 Giro d'Italia, with Bob Jungels, sixth overall and best young rider last year, returning to lead the general classification charge and Fernando Gaviria hunting sprint wins in his debut Grand Tour.
The pair are among four riders in the nine-man squad under the age of 25, as Laurens De Plus, 21, and Davide Martinelli, 23, are also handed their Grand Tour debuts.
The average age and level of experience are balanced out by four riders over the age of 30 in Eros Capecchi, Dries Devenyns, Iljo Keisse, and Maximiliano Richeze. The squad is rounded out by 28-year-old Pieter Serry, who has ridden the last three editions of the Giro.
Richeze and Keisse will be the key men for Gaviria in the closing kilometres of the flatter stages, while De Plus, Serry, and Capecchi will support Jungels in the mountains.
"If you look at our outfit for the Giro d'Italia, you can see it's a young one, with three Grand Tour rookies, but at the same time a very motivated one to have a say in the race," said directeur sportif Davide Bramati.
Jungels potential as a stage racer was laid bare at last year's Giro as the then 23-year-old spent three days in the maglia rosa and finished sixth overall. This season he has finished 14th at Tirreno-Adriatico and 8th at the Tour de Romandie.
"After last year's performance, we'll try to help Bob make another step forward," said Bramati. "The Giro is always a challenging race, but he is prepared; we will see how things pan out and we'll make a first assessment after the Foligno time trial, although we are aware that the difficult third week can easily change the general classification."
There is no shortage of excitement surrounding Gaviria as he prepares for his first Grand Tour, and this season he's been basing himself at the spare flat of none other than 22-time stage winner Alessandro Petacchi. The Colombian is one of the hottest prospects in the sport and has already racked up four wins this season, including one on Italian soil at Tirreno-Adriatico.
"Fernando will race a Grand Tour for the first time, and the most important thing for him will be to gain experience, but we aren't hiding the fact we have faith in him, as he's capable of getting a good result in the flat stages," said Bramati.
"Overall, our squad is a balanced one, capable of supporting both Bob in the mountains and Fernando in the sprints, so we look with confidence to the first Grand Tour of the year, which we hope to be a good one to our team."
Quick-Step Floors for the 2017 Giro d'Italia: Eros Capecchi (Ita), Laurens De Plus (Bel), Dries Devenyns (Bel), Fernando Gaviria Rendon (Col), Bob Jungels (Lux), Iljo Keisse (Bel), Davide Martinelli (Ita), Maximiliano Richeze (Arg) and Pieter Serry (Bel).
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