Team Sunweb have announced the roster that will line up at the 2018 Giro d'Italia next week in defence of Tom Dumoulin's title, with Laurens ten Dam and Chad Haga reprising their roles from 2017. Added for this year's eight-rider roster - one less than previous years, as per UCI mandate - are Roy Curvers, Chris Hamilton, Lennard Hofstede, Sam Oomen and Louis Vervaeke.
With the riders' ages ranging from 22 to 38, the team believes the line-up provides the perfect combination of talented youth and experienced riders.
"Hamilton, Hofstede, Oomen and Vervaeke will all play key supporting roles while capitalising on the experience of Haga, ten Dam and road captain Curvers, who between them have a combined 28 Grand Tour starts," the team said in the announcement posted on their website.
Although the roster is markedly different from last year's, with the noticeable omission of Wilco Kelderman, for example, Team Sunweb coach Marc Reef said they are going into the Italian Grand Tour with the same goal - a GC result for Dumoulin.
“Lining up as defending champions will bring special dynamics into both the team and the race, and we will be prepared for that," Reef said. "Fighting for a GC result is entirely different in comparison to a stage success focus – everybody in the team needs to be completely focused for three weeks in a row, which is very demanding for all. We learned a lot from last year and we will bring this experience into the mix for this edition."
Ten Dam, 37, has started 15 Grand Tours and has had a busy season with 25 race days already. The Dutchman is currently competing at the Tour de Romandie. Curvers, 38, has started seven Grand Tours and raced last at Scheldeprijs, where circumventing an untimely crossing gate brought his race to an end. Haga, 29, has started six Grand Tours, including the past three Giros.
Dumoulin competed last in Liege-Bastogne-Liege and has been training at altitude in Serra Nevada, where Oomen and Vervaeke joined him. The team have been preparing their star with video recons and analyses of data from the key stages.
"On paper the course is even tougher than last year, with more climbing and fewer time trial kilometres, and we are expecting a really challenging three weeks," Reef said, conspicuously omitting the 2018 race's number-one obstacle to victory: Chris Froome's debut entry.
"Our Giro squad selection is made based on the characteristics of the course with the right balance between talented climbers and our experienced captains," Reef said. "We head to Israel with a strong and confident squad and we look forward to getting the Giro started.”
The 2018 Giro d'Italia starts May 4 in Jerusalem with a 9.7km time trial and concludes May 27 with a circuit race in Rome.
Team Sunweb for the 2018 Giro d'Italia: Roy Curvers, Laurens ten Dam, Tom Dumoulin, Chad Haga, Chris Hamilton, Lennard Hofstede, Sam Oomen, Louis Vervaeke