Team Sky have announced its squads for the upcoming one-day WorldTour races E3 Harelbeke and Gent-Wevelgem, and confirmed Mikel Landa will make his debut for the team at the Italian stage race Settimana Internazionale Coppi e Bartali.
Michal Kwiatkowski and Luke Rowe will be given leadership roles for the WorldTour races with the later looking to build on his fourth place at Omloop Het Nieuwsblad.
Landa will make his long awaited return to racing after he was forced to miss the Volta a la Comunitat Valenciana, Ruta del Sol and Tirreno-Adriatico due to illness. The 26-year-old hasn't pinned on a race number since October's Il Lombardia where he finished 29th in his last appearance for the Astana team. Team Sky won the race overall with Peter Kennaugh in 2014 and have taken stage wins in the last two editions with Ben Swift. Neither rider will start the race in 2016 with Philip Deignan and Sebastian Henao both selected in a team built around the overall ambitions of Landa.
Landa will lead Team Sky at the Giro d'Italia in May with the Coppi e Bartali and the Giro del Trentino stages races key to his goal of improving upon his third place overall at the 2015 edition of the race.
I'm really looking forward to it. It's a long time since I last competed, but in the last month I've been training hard and feeling better every day. I'm fully recovered and ready to go," Landa said according to Teamsky.com. "Being out for so long, my condition is not going to be 100%, and I have to get used to riding at race pace again, but I'm happy to be part of the team again. We've had a really good start to the season, winning a lot of races, and I want to be part of that as soon as possible."
"I just want to help the team perform well and use it to build my form for the Giro d'Italia. I want to go into that race in peak condition, and everything between now and then will be working towards that."
Spanish duo Xabier Zandio and David Lopez, who has recovered from a broken collarbone, add horsepower to the squad with an injection of youth via neo-pros Gianni Moscon and Alex Peters with Danny van Poppel the designated sprinter for the four-day race.
Ian Stannard, the 2014 and 2015 Omloop Het Nieuwsblad winner, will use E3 Harelbeke and Gent-Wevelgem as further preparation for the Tour of Flanders on April 3. Andy Fenn, Michal Golas, Christian Knees and Salvatore Puccio will also race both events while van Poppel has received special dispensation to leave Coppi e Bartali early to join the squad for Gent-Wevelgem.
Geraint Thomas will skip the defence of his 2015 E3 Harelbeke victory as he is riding the Volta a Catalunya with Chris Froome.
Settimana Internazionale Coppi e Bartali: Philip Deignan, Sebastian Henao, Mikel Landa, David Lopez, Gianni Moscon, Alex Peters, Danny van Poppel and Xabier Zandio.
E3 Harelbeke: Andy Fenn, Michal Golas, Christian Knees, Michal Kwiatkowski, Salvatore Puccio, Luke Rowe, Ian Stannard and Elia Viviani.
Gent-Wevelgem: Andy Fenn, Michal Golas, Christian Knees, Salvatore Puccio, Luke Rowe, Ian Stannard, Danny van Poppel and Elia Viviani.
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