Omega Pharma-QuickStep has named the team that they hope will bring them success at the Giro d'Italia this month. The team will be led by Rigoberto Urán, who finished second in last year’s race behind Vincenzo Nibali (Astana), as they focus on the general classification.
"For the team it will be a kind of milestone," said directeur sportif Davide Bramati. "For the first time in years, the team will be present with ambitions to do well in the GC and support a rider who was already on the podium last year, Rigoberto Urán. Even our approach to the race has changed compared to prior years. We did some recon on the key stages and the riders that have to stay near Urán did a unique race program to be in top condition for this race. Everyone knows the goal, which is to try to do well with Urán and give him full support to fight for a top GC place in the last week of the Giro. The team is strong and is complete.”
Urán moved to the team from Sky over the winter with expressed intention of being the team’s Grand Tour leader. After Mark Cavendish chose to go to the Tour of California instead of riding the Giro, Urán now holds a large portion of the team's ambitions. The Colombian will be supported by a strong team of climbers in Serge Pauwels, Gianluca Brambilla, Wout Poels and Pieter Serry. Iljo Keisse and Julian Vermote will be reserved for team duties on the flat days and Thomas de Gendt - who won on the Stelvio in 2012 — gives them a wildcard to play in the breakaways.
The opening stages shouldn't challenge the team with regards to ascending, but Bramati is cautious about making it through to Italy. "The first stages in Ireland, it will be important to start well," he explained. "We will have to pay attention to the wind and the nervousness. In the first days there is always a bit of chaos. The roads will be narrow in Ireland, so we have to be focused. The stages in Italy will have to be handled day-by-day with a goal to be present in the last week.
“Starting with the weekend before the second week of racing, every day will be difficult. We will have five high-mountain stages with summit finishes in the last eight stages. We will have the 26.8km individual time trial on the Cima Grappa, which is the 18th stage. So, really, it's a tough week. The team has to be there to do well in that last week. Every day can include a key moment for the overall.”
There will still be one eye on the sprints with Alessandro Petacchi remaining in the selection. The Italian stalwart has won 22 stages of Italy's national race in the past and, while he's beyond his best years, he's a potential contender for a stage victory.
Omega Pharma-QuickStep team for the Giro d’Italia: Rigoberto Urán, Serge Pauwels, Gianluca Brambilla, Wout Poels, Pieter Serry, Thomas de Gendt, Alessandro Petacchi, Iljo Keisse and Julian Vermote.