Team Sky have confirmed the team that will back Richie Porte at this year’s Giro d'Italia. Porte will lead Team Sky for the first time at the Italian race, after being pulled from the squad last year following an illness disrupted spring. A mixture of youth and experience will ride alongside the Australian, including Bernard Eisel, Sebastián Henao, Elia VIviani, Vasil Kiryienka, and Giro debutant Leopold König.
"The Giro d'Italia has been my main goal of the season," Porte said in a team press release. "I've worked very hard through the winter and am entering the race strong, healthy and up for the challenge. The competition will be tough, and obviously anything can happen in a Grand Tour, but we've got a great group of riders going into the race and we are ready for it."
Of this year's Giro d'Italia contenders, Porte's 2015 campaign has been the strongest so far with overall victories at Paris-Nice, the Volta a Catalunya and the Giro del Trentino. Porte has twice ridden the Giro, finishing seventh overall on his first attempt, and it will be his first appearance since 2011.
"Richie is entering the race in good shape and with real focus and determination," said Dave Brailsford. "He's made a lot of small changes across a number of areas in his preparation and training this season after the illness that affected his performance in 2014. His results this season speak for themselves with excellent wins at Paris-Nice, Volta a Catalunya and Giro del Trentino. This is one of the biggest and toughest races to win in the calendar but we go to the Giro confident about the challenge ahead."
König was due to ride the Giro back in 2012 when NetApp secured a controversial wildcard but was forced to miss it due to illness. He made his Grand Tour debut the following season at the Vuelta a España, finishing ninth overall, and rode to an impressive seventh at last year's Tour de France. He indicated earlier this season that he would also be targeting the general classification at the Giro. Along with Henao and 2011 Giro stage winner Mikel Nieve, they will provide support for Porte in the high mountains.
The 21-year-old Henao made his Grand Tour debut at last year's Giro d'Italia and, freed by the lack of team leader, went on to finish fourth in the youth classification. Eisel, Kiryienka and Kanstantsin Siutsou will provide the experience in the team with 42 Grand Tour appearances between them. There are two Italians in the line-up with Viviani targeting the sprints and Salvatore Puccio, who spent a day in the maglia rosa during the 2013 Giro d'Italia.
Team Sky for the Giro d'Italia: Richie Porte, Salvatore Puccio, Elia Viviani, Bernhard Eisel, Sebastián Henao, Vasil Kiryienka, Leopold König, Mikel Nieve and Kanstantsin Siutsou.
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