Team Sky will have two leaders at this year's Giro d'Italia with Mikel Landa and Geraint Thomas set to spearhead the nine-man squad. For Thomas, it will be his first chance to lead a Grand Tour team while Landa is looking to bounce back from the disappointment of abandoning last year's race.
Wout Poels, who had also hinted at the possibility of riding the Giro, will once again help Chris Froome at the Tour de France. Team principal Dave Brailsford believes that Landa and Thomas can ride together.
"Mikel Landa's goal was always to focus on the Giro, as it was last year. We've got a real focus for it this year as well," explained Brailsford. "I think this is a big season for Geraint, a really important season for Geraint. He won Paris-Nice last season and then he didn't perform as well as he'd like in the Tour.
"This season I think he needs a big goal and wants to target a Grand Tour. That made sense to us, and when we saw the profile of the Giro we felt he would be capable of performing very, very well. Their qualities are different, and the way Mikel and Geraint approach and perform are different. But I think that's complimentary in a team like ours. I think they've both got targets to work for."
Landa has his breakthrough at the Giro d'Italia in 2015, where he finished third overall after supporting teammate Fabio Aru. He joined Team Sky with the express intention of leading the squad at the Italian race but quit after the opening rest day due to illness.
Thomas has not ridden the Giro d'Italia since 2012, where Team Sky's best finisher was Rigoberto Uran in seventh place. Speaking to Cyclingnews over the winter, Thomas said that he needed to take a risk with his calendar and indicated that a ride at the Giro d'Italia could be on the cards. The Welshman had protected status at last year's Tour de France, due to his performance the previous year. However, he has never been given billing as a leader at a Grand Tour.
The next Team Sky generation
As well as the more established riders, Team Sky is looking to develop the next generation of young talent, including British riders Owain Doull, Tao Geoghegan Hart and Jon Dibben. The trio of riders have come up through the British system and Brailsford has faith that they can all contribute to Team Sky's success in their first season at WorldTour level.
"The first generation came from the Academy with Rod and came with a real good education. They really knew what performance was about and it stood them in good stead," Brailsford said. "The challenge for Owain, Tao and Jon is to come into the team and be the second generation. It's a slightly different experience for them. There's as much onus on us as them.
"The challenge in a team like ours is if you've got the guys going for the big goals, where does it leave the young guys?It's very easy to get lost. What I'm pushing for is to target the big wins but also collectively target other races. Our biggest number of wins was 52, when Cav was with us. If we can get a volume of wins as a team, a stage in Oman, Trentino or wherever, it contributes to a team goal.
"So we hope the young guys can contribute five wins, or whatever it is, in a small race they ride. All of a sudden it becomes important for them and so every win means something, and that gives everyone a goal. I think that's massively important for the team. It's not just the British guys, it's others. I want them to learn to win. That's the goal for now."
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