Nibali, Bernal expected for pre-Giro showdown at Tour of the Alps

Before Vincenzo Nibali and Egan Bernal get a chance to square off at the 2019 Giro d'Italia in May, the pair of overall contenders will get a chance test each others' legs at the Tour of the Alps, a rigorous five-day race in the Tirol region of Italy and Austria that has proved itself to be a proper tune-up for the Italian Grand Tour.

Nibali's Bahrain-Merida and Bernal's Team Sky were among the teams unveiled Tuesday for the 2019 race, with the WorldTour ranks also being represented by AG2R La Mondiale, Astana and Bora-Hansgrohe. The five WorldTour squads were among the nine Pro Continental teams, two Continental teams and one national team the race named as part of its initial team announcement. Three more team, completing a field of 20, will be released in the coming days, according to the race.

Thibaut Pinot (Groupama-FDJ) beat Domenico Pozzovivo (Bahrain-Merida) and Miguel Angel Lopez (Astana) to win the 2018 edition of the race, while Chris Froome (Team Sky) finished fourth overall and then went on to win the Giro. Neither Nibali nor Bernal competed in Tour of the Alps last year, but both have signaled their intentions to line up for the Giro in May.

The race, which starts in Austria and finishes in Italy, includes 14,000 metres of total climbing across its five stages with a preference for reduced stage distances and the avoidance of extreme altitudes.

Previously run as the Giro del Trentino, the Tour of the Alps took on its current, cross-border format in 2017, when Geraint Thomas was the overall winner. Throughout its history, the race has been a reliable indicator of pre-Giro form. Recent winners include Nibali (2008 and 2013), the late Michele Scarponi (2011), Cadel Evans (2014), Richie Porte (2015) and Mikel Landa (2016).

Nine WorldTour teams took part in the 2018 edition – Team Sky, AG2R La Mondiale, LottoNL-Jumbo, UAE Team Emirates, Groupama-FDJ, Astana, Dimension Data, Bora-Hansgrohe and Bahrain-Merida – as well as all four of the Giro wildcards.

2019 Tour of the Alps teams

World Tour:
AG2R La Mondiale
Astana Pro Team
Bahrain Merida
Team Sky

Professional Continental:
Caja Rural-Seguros RGA
Delko Marseille Provence
Nippo Fantini Faizane
Gazprom Rusvelo
Manzana Postobon
Neri-Selle Italia-KTM

Tirol Cycling Team
Team Vorarlberg-Santic

National Teams:

2019 Tour of the Alps route

Monday, April 22: stage 1: Kufstein – Kufstein, 144km
Tuesday, April 23: stage 2: Reith im Alpbachtal – Schenna/Scena, 178.7km
Wednesday, April 24: stage 3: Salurn/Salorno – Baselga di Pinè, 106.3km
Thursday, April 25: stage 4: Baselga di Pinè – Cles 134km
Friday, April 26: stage 5: Kaltern/Caldaro – Bozen/Bolzano 148.7km

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