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With van Garderen, Pinot, Mollema, Giro start list keeps improving

DENIA, Spain (VN) — Forget the Tour de France; the race of 2017 looks to be the Giro d’Italia. The start list for the season’s first grand tour just keeps looking better and better.

Three more heavy hitters confirmed their intentions over the weekend: Bauke Mollema (Trek – Segafredo), Tejay van Garderen (BMC Racing), and Thibaut Pinot (FDJ) will race the Giro.

With other marquee names already committed, including Fabio Aru (Astana), Esteban Chaves (Orica – Scott), and Vincenzo Nibali (Bahrain – Merida), the race for pink could be the battle of the season.

“I’ve always wanted to do the Giro, but never had the chance,” said van Garderen, who will target the Giro to give BMC teammate Richie Porte a clear shot at the Tour. “Everything will be sorted in the final week, with four mountains and a time trial. It’s going to be very difficult.”

Pinot told L’Equipe over the weekend that he will race both the Giro and Tour next season, while Mollema confirmed he will race the Giro to win, and then race the Tour to help teammate Alberto Contador fight for yellow. Van Garderen said he’s unsure of his post-Giro plans, and said he might race the Tour if the team needs him, or perhaps take on the Vuelta.

Anticipation has been growing for the Giro’s centenary edition, May 5-28, ever since the course was rolled out last month.

Others expected to start include perennial podium contender Rafal Majka (Bora – Hansgrohe), Mikel Landa (Sky), and Ilnur Zakarin (Katusha – Alpecin). And we’ll be able to count on Adam Hansen (Lotto – Soudal), who is looking to keep his grand tour streak alive.

Another sub-plot could be a clash between today’s top Dutch riders, with Tom Dumoulin (Sunweb) and Steven Kruijswijk (LottoNL – Jumbo), and Mollema all in the mix.

The hits keep coming, with Nairo Quintana (Movistar) mulling another run at pink, and even Chris Froome (Sky) keeping the Giro door ever so slightly open. Only Contador and Romain Bardet (Ag2r La Mondiale) have confirmed they will not race the Giro.

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