2016 Giro d’Italia teams power rankings

2016 Giro d’Italia teams power rankings

Here are the 22 Giro squads, ranked by potential for stage wins, GC position, and TV time.


FDJ (France)

It may be a WorldTour team, but FDJ doesn’t usually act like it — at least not in Italy. The French outfit does best on home turf; 10 of its 15 wins in 2015 were at French races. Aside from Thibaut Pinot’s stage 20 Tour win, those victories were at lower-tier races (ever heard of Tour du Gévaudan Languedoc-Roussillon?) And, anyway, there’s no way Pinot, France’s latest great hope, will spend his May in Italy.

Who to watch
FDJ is counting on former national champ Arnaud Démare to deliver in the sprints. Alexandre Geniez slipped into the top-10 at last year’s Giro, so he may be a factor in the overall.

Keys to success
With Greipel, Kittel, Viviani, and Ewan on the start list, FDJ would do well not to pin its hopes on sprinter Démare, who has never won a grand tour stage. Some years, the Giro is a great chance for JV sprinters to earn varsity wins. This is not one of them.

Did you know?
Team manager Marc Madiot is a knight of the French Legion of Honor. He also won Paris-Roubaix twice. Do not mess with him.

WorldTour ranking (as of April 24): 8


Nippo – Vini Fantini (Italy)

For a Continental squad, a wildcard invitation to the Giro d’Italia is a success in itself. For Nippo – Vini Fantini, the presence of former Giro champion Damiano Cunego may have been the deciding factor. (That and the fact that stalwart contenders Androni – Giocattoli were surprisingly left off the teams list this year.)

The self-described Italian-Japanese team — its title sponsors are the Nippo construction company and an Italian wine producer based on the Adriatic coast — was created in 2014, with Cunego coming on board as team leader after a long career at Lampre.

Keys to success
If somehow the team could take a stage win, it would be a minor miracle.

Who to Watch
Not many teams have a former Giro champion on their rosters, but the tiny Continental squad sports 2004 winner Cunego. If he could muster even a stage podium, it would extend the tifosi’s love affair with the “Little Prince.” Grega Bole began 2016 with a relative bang, taking victory at the Gran Premio degli Etruschi. A new signing from the Polish CCC Sprandi squad, he won the GP Ouest France-Plouay WorldTour race in 2011. Aggressor Gianfranco Zilioli, from Androni – Giocattoli, is another to watch.

Did you Know?
Vini Fantini is one of seven wine cellars owned by the Farnese Group, which distributes its wines to 74 countries around the world, producing nearly 13 million bottles.


IAM Cycling (Switzerland)

Switzerland’s top team had a rough introduction to the WorldTour in 2015, after two years as a Pro Continental outfit. Sure, Matteo Pelucchi won two stages in a WorldTour race, but it was the Tour of Poland — a hard race but not an ultimate test. IAM riders have never won at a grand tour. They’d likely be satisfied to simply make the day’s breakaway at the Giro.

Who to Watch
Italian Pelucchi has shown glimmers of hope in sprints, having also won a stage at Tirreno-Adriatico. Heinrich Haussler? The 32-year-old’s brilliant 2009 seems long ago. IAM should rely on homegrown talent, or perhaps former hour record-holder Matthias Brändle, for an elusive victory.

Keys to success
Keep fighting to make a breakaway.

Did you know?
IAM is not a declarative statement — it’s an acronym: Independent Asset Management. The Swiss do like banking and investments, right?

WorldTour ranking (as of April 24): 14


LottoNL – Jumbo (Netherlands)

LottoNL – Jumbo comes into the Giro with low expectations for an overall victory or even a spot in the top five. The WorldTour team will likely be surpassed by wild card teams who will be eager to prove themselves at a grand tour. Instead, the LottoNL riders may go for long breaks with the hopes of making one stick to the stage finish. But don’t expect to see the Dutch squad’s bright yellow jerseys driving the front of the peloton at any point throughout the three weeks of racing.

Keys to success
Improving upon Steven Kruijswijk’s seventh place finish from last year will be a tall order for LottoNL – Jumbo. But with a lot of luck and dedicated teamwork, a top-five finish isn’t wholly out of the question. Making it into substantial breakaways is probably the team’s more realistic goal.

Who to watch
Italian racer Enrico Battaglin will be shooting for stage wins again this year. The 26-year-old has two Giro stages to his name already, one in 2013 from a group sprint after that year’s longest stage (227.7km). The other came in 2014 after surviving a long breakaway through the mountains and out-sprinting the rest of his small group.

Did you know?
Maarten Tjallingii signed a six-month contract with LottoNL-Jumbo, which expires soon after the Giro. The 38-year-old rider will retire after the Dutch national championships.

WorldTour ranking (as of April 24): 10


BMC Racing (United States)

The Tour de France will be BMC’s time to shine this year, with GC contenders Richie Porte and Tejay van Garderen. But we don’t expect much from the U.S.-registered squad in Italy, as it is brining a B-team. Despite Cadel Evans’s stint in pink in 2014 and Taylor Phinney’s three stages in the maglia rosa in 2012, BMC has yet to win the Giro outright. And 2016 doesn’t look to be the year, either. Damiano Caruso was the team’s highest-placed rider last year, when he finished eighth. But sneaking into the top 10 this year will be a tall order.

Keys to success
Knowing the chances are slim for an overall podium, BMC will look to tally stage wins throughout the three weeks of racing.

Who to watch
Daniel Oss and Alessandro De Marchi will be hunting stage wins. De Marchi thrives on breakaway attempts, twice taking the most aggressive rider award in the 2014 Tour de France, and claiming a stage win at the 2014 Vuelta a España from a long breakaway. He’ll want to impress in his home country.

Did you know?
Rick Zabel, 22, will be racing his second Giro this May. Though his father, Erik, won 12 stages in the Tour de France and eight at the Vuelta, he never claimed a victory at the Giro.

WorldTour Ranking (as of April 24): 3


Gazprom – RusVelo (Russia)

This year’s surprise wild-card entry went to the all-Russian Gazprom – RusVelo team, at the expense of long-running Italian squad Androni Giocattoli – Sidermec. One would assume Androni was left out due to a doping allegation that spoiled its 2015 season, but Gazprom – RusVelo has returned five positive results in the past two years. Go figure.

Mauro Vegni, the head of cycling for Giro organizer RCS Sport, said the decision came down to globalization. “The international development of all our races remains one of the cornerstones of our strategy and guided us in the final choice of the wildcards,” he explained.

Keys to success
In its first grand tour appearance and with a young team of unknown riders, Gazprom – RusVelo will likely attack in hopes of making a breakaway stick, collecting ample TV time, and, just possibly, making it to the stage finish first on a day.

Who to watch
Watch for Alexandr Kolobnev. He won the mountains classification at the Volta ao Algarve this year and is a former Team Katusha rider with extensive WorldTour and ProTour history, having raced with Rabobank, CSC, Saxo, and Katusha since 2005.

Did you know?
Gazprom – RusVelo is part of the Russian Global Cycling project, which is funded by Russian businesses and aimed at developing domestic talent and promoting Russia within the global cycling arena.


Wilier – Southeast (Italy)

Wilier – Southeast has participated in the last six editions of the Giro. The Pro Continental team has won stages but has made bigger headlines for things like four doping positives tied to the Italian grand tour. Danilo Di Luca, Mauro Santambrogio, Matteo Rabottini, and, last year, Ramon Carretero, have all been booted from the Giro or suspended since 2013.

Still, the team remains intact and returns to the Giro yet again, having earned its selection by winning the Coppa Italia teams classification in 2015. The presence of Filippo Pozzato didn’t hurt, either. The still-popular Italian will likely head to the Giro with the fitness he built up for another run through his beloved spring classics.

Who to watch
Rising sprint talent Jakub Mareczko, 21, grabbed a big early-season win on stage 7 of the Tour de San Luis, in January. He also took stage 6 of February’s Tour de Langkawi. The Polish-born Italian is seen as one of the best young hopes for Italian cycling by national coach Davide Cassani. He ended 2015 with a flourish, winning all seven bunch sprints at the 2.1-ranked Tour of Taihu Lake, where he took home the general classification, points classification, and the young rider competition.

Keys to success
Southeast will do well simply to avoid scandal. The team likely feels lucky just to have made the show and will show its appreciation by being active in breakaways.

Did you know?
Wilier – Southeast has raced as Southeast – Venezuela, Vini Fantini, Yellow Fluo, and Neri Sottoli in previous seasons. Its current title sponsor, Zhejiang Southeast Space Frame Co., Ltd., is a Chinese steel firm.


Bardiani – CSF (Italy)

For Pro Continental Italian teams, a single stage win at the Giro can make for a successful season. Bardiani – CSF, which has missed out on only one Giro since 2009, has been the most consistently prosperous in recent years, with Domenico Pozzovivo and Enrico Battaglin winning stages in 2012 and 2013; Marco Canola, Battaglin, and Stefano Pirazzi (who still rides for the team) taking one each in 2014; and Nicola Boem grabbing the sole wild card win of the 2015 Giro. But the team did start last year’s race under a dark cloud, when the Movement for Credible Cycling called into question its personnel decisions (involving an unnamed rider). Bardiani quit the MPCC soon thereafter.

Who to watch
Attacking rider Sonny Colbrelli won the Gran Premio Città di Lugano at the end of February. His proclivity for finding the right breakaways and turning stages into one-day races bodes well for the aggressive team. Stefano Pirazzi will be more focused on the climbing stages. He won the mountains classification at the 2013 Giro.

Keys to success
A return to its successful ways — one, two, even three stage wins — would be a resounding statement. Not many breakaways will go up the road without this team’s distinctive lime green jersey.

Did you know?
Bruno Reverberi has managed the team since 1982, when it began as Termolan. He handed most of the management duties over to his son Roberto in 2013.


Ag2r La Mondiale (France)

It’s been awhile for Ag2r. The team’s last Giro stage win came in 2011. Like any dutiful French squad, Ag2r is far more concerned with July’s grand tour, where it won two stages in 2015. And the team can defend GC: Jean-Christophe Péraud won Critérium International last year. But with limited talent and budget, Ag2r has to be selective, and the Giro simply isn’t a top priority for a French team with a French sponsor.

Who to watch
Domenico Pozzovivo, 33, might be the man for May. The aging Italian will want redemption after crashing out of last year’s Giro. If not him, the 38-year-old Péraud will be in reserve to chase a top 10 on GC.

Keys to success
If it wants the most out of this Giro, the team should forego its GC ambitions and cut Pozzovivo loose on a wild day in the mountains to win a stage.

Did you know?
Originally founded in 1992, the team counts Alexander Vinokourov and Jaan Kirsipuu as alumni.

WorldTour ranking (as of April 24): 15


Dimension Data (South Africa)

The performance of Dimension Data will be a tough one to predict, in that the team’s Giro squad will boast tons of grand tour experience but no favorites or even someone who would qualify as a dark horse for the GC.

There’s Spaniard Igor Anton, who will be starting his 16th grand tour this May. He’s finished all but two so far but has cracked the top 10 only twice, both times at the Vuelta. Then there’s Kanstantin Siutsou, who’ll be starting his 15th grand tour (four DNFs) but whose best finish was ninth at the 2011 Giro. (He did win the 2008 Tour of Georgia, though. Remember that?)

Who to watch
Spanish youngster Omar Fraile, 25, won the climber’s jersey at last year’s Vuelta, which was his grand tour debut. Look for him to try to light things up in the mountains, especially if it becomes clear the team doesn’t have much to protect in the GC.

Keys to success
If Anton or Siutsou looks good for a high GC placing, the team will aim to defend that. Otherwise, this Giro will be mainly about giving Fraile and Merhawi Kudus a chance to gain valuable grand tour experience.

Did you know?
Kudus, 22, was the youngest rider in last year’s Tour de France, where he was also, along with countryman Daniel Teklehaimanot, one of the first two black Africans to start that race.

WorldTour ranking (as of April 24): 17


Lampre – Merida (Italy)

If it weren’t Italian, this team probably wouldn’t warrant this high a spot in our Giro power rankings. We’re guessing home soil will provide a bit of extra incentive. But these days, fewer than half of this very international squad’s riders are Italian, so even that might not factor too much. While Lampre will come to the Giro with a proven GC threat in Poland’s Przemyslaw Niemiec (he’s something to watch at the sign-in), if he’s to improve upon or even match his sixth-place finish in the 2013 Giro, he’ll need some heroic support from his teammates, which will include 23-year-old Valerio Conti and 21-year-old Matej Mahoric, who will both be riding in their first Giro.

Who to watch
Niemiec will likely be it for GC. As he showed in 2013, though, he is worth keeping an eye on. Beyond that, four-time Giro stage winner Diego Ulissi is a safe bet to animate breakaways, while Sacha Modolo, who won two stages last year, will be on the hunt in the sprints.

Keys to success
Leave Niemiec to his own devices in the GC battle and look for any opportunities to put Ulissi and Modolo in position for stage wins.

Did you know?
Ulissi is only the second rider, after Giuseppe Palumbo in the early 1990s, to win consecutive junior world road race championships (2006–’07).

WorldTour ranking (as of April 24): 11


Tinkoff (Russia)

The fact that the most important thing about this team is not its obnoxious owner speaks to the strength of the squad. Could you imagine Ag2r La Mondiale riders overshadowing Oleg Tinkov? But when you’ve got grand tour legend Alberto Contador and world champion Peter Sagan in your ranks, not even Tinkov can completely dominate the spotlight.

Neither of those two will be at the Giro, though. Defending Giro champion Contador is skipping this year’s edition to concentrate on the Tour, while Sagan will be back in California as the defending champion and record holder for total stage wins. Instead, the team will be riding in support of Poland’s Rafal Majka, who has finished in the top 10 in three of the last six grand tours he’s started (seventh at the 2013 Giro, sixth at the 2014 Giro, and third at last year’s Vuelta).

Who to watch
If Tinkov dyes his hair pink again this year, it will be because of Majka. But that won’t happen without support from lieutenants like rising Aussie star Jay McCarthy and Italy’s Manuele Boaro.

Keys to success
Tinkoff will have to let other teams control the race and hope to keep Majka protected and fresh enough to follow moves. Don’t look for the team to be as strong or as active as it was last year for Contador. But if the riders make the most of their opportunities, Majka’s a safe bet for a high finish.

Did you know?
Tinkov’s first grand tour as a team owner was the 2007 Giro, when his Pro Continental squad Tinkoff Credit Systems earned a wild-card spot. Team Katusha grew out of the ashes of that old organization.

WorldTour ranking (as of April 24): 1


Katusha (Russia)

The scandal-plagued Russian team narrowly avoided suspension in early 2016 after two of its members, Luca Paolini and Eduard Vorganov, tested positive in a 12-month period. The UCI took a lenient stance to Paolini’s cocaine positive, however, calling it recreational and not performance-enhancing. Soon after, the team announced it was pulling out of the Movement for Credible Cycling due to what it called a “duality of rules.”

On the flip side, Katusha sprint star Alexander Kristoff remains a bright spot, having won five stages across the tours of Qatar and Oman. It seems unlikely he’ll make the Giro roster, however.

Who to watch
Winner of the 2015 Tour de Romandie, Ilnur Zakarin comes to the Giro in the GC leadership role. He won stage 11 at last year’s edition, an incredibly bumpy route from Forlì to Imola. The 26-year-old Russian will try to capitalize on his climbing chops to improve upon his 44th overall finish last year. His form seems to be on track — he won a climbing stage at Paris-Nice in March, beating overall winner Geraint Thomas and Alberto Contador to the line.

He’ll be supported, in part, by Estonian Rein Taaramäe, winner of the overall at the Arctic Race of Norway and Vuelta a Burgos in 2015.

Keys to success
A high overall placing for Zakarin would be tremendous. A stage win for either him or Taaramäe would be an added bonus.

Did you know?
Team Katusha was created in 2008 by businessman Igor Makarov, as the first Russian cycling team licensed to compete in the WorldTour. (Though it was built on the ashes of Tinkoff Credit Systems, a Pro Continental team founded by Oleg Tinkov.) Makarov is president of the Russian Cycling Federation and a member of the UCI Management Committee.

Katusha riders have returned seven positive tests for banned substances since the team’s formation in 2008.

WorldTour ranking (as of April 24): 5


Lotto – Soudal (Belgium)

This Belgian squad had a bumpy early season. In February, a car struck riders Thomas de Gendt and Gert Dockx while they were out on a training ride, though neither was seriously injured. Three days later, star sprinter André Greipel broke a rib in a crash at the Volta ao Algarve. And before the month was out, a race moto knocked Stig Broeckx to the ground near the end of Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne, breaking his collarbone.

None of that should adversely affect the team’s May plans, however. With Maxime Monfort, who just missed finishing in the top 10 of last year’s Giro, Lotto – Soudal could maybe, perhaps, be a factor in some of the more mountainous stages in Italy.

But who are we kidding? The squad will be all-in for Greipel in the sprint stages. And well it should be. The big German has won stages in three different Giros and will likely be the only thing standing between countryman Marcel Kittel and the points jersey.

Who to watch
Monfort will likely be free to hunt for stage wins and see if he can improve on last year’s 11th-place finish, while Belgian climber Tim Wellens will gain invaluable grand tour experience. But the team will mostly be supporting Greipel, who will be able to call on the help of riders like Aussie veteran and Giro stage-winner Adam Hansen.

Keys to success
The primary goal will be guiding Greipel to the finish in the seven all-out sprint stages of this year’s Giro. Beyond that, the team will be thrilled to place riders in breakaways and hunt for stage wins.

Did you know?
Soudal is a manufacturer of sealants, foams, and adhesives, and the squad raced this year’s Paris-Nice under the name Lotto – Fix All to promote Soudal’s super-strong consumer adhesive.

WorldTour ranking (as of April 24): 11


Trek – Segafredo (United States)

Cool, calm, and collected, Ryder Hesjedal, winner of the 2012 Giro, is back with a new team and podium ambitions. He always rides best in the third week, and the tough climbs stacked at the end of this year’s route favor his style. With Hesjedal for those mountain stages, Giacomo Nizzolo for the sprints, and a motivated Fabian Cancellara for everything in between, the team is likely to come away with a result it can be proud of.

The addition of sponsor Segafredo, an Italian coffee company, makes the Giro even more important for the American-registered team.

Keys to success
Considering the Giro opens with a flat time trial, Cancellara can realistically think about taking the pink jersey and holding onto it for a number of stages. It would make the race for the entire team. If Hesjedal can come close to matching his Giro-wining form of 2012, he should be considered an outside threat for the podium.

Riders to watch
Cancellara has never worn pink, and he wants to change that. Giro champ Hesjedal returns for what could be one of his final legitimate chances at a grand tour podium. Nizzolo would love to defend his victory in the points classification in last year’s Giro. He’ll need all the luck he can get against the likes of Marcel Kittel and Caleb Ewan.

Did you know?
Massimo Zanetti Beverage Group is an Italian coffee company that owns brands such as Segafredo and MJB. With turnover of around $1.2 billion per year, it claims to be the largest private company in the coffee industry.

WorldTour ranking (as of April 24): 9


Orica – GreenEdge (Australia)

It seems only a matter of time before Caleb Ewan becomes the best sprinter in cycling. But will it be at this Giro? Not if Etixx – Quick-Step’s Marcel Kittel has anything to say about it. The 21-year-old Ewan enters his first Giro with the highest of hopes, shooting for multiple stage wins. He’ll be surrounded by a solid and experienced lead-out train that is willing to lay it all on the line for him. Overcoming Kittel won’t be easy. But if Ewan can do it, this Giro could be the dawn of a new era.

On the other side of the spectrum, Esteban Chaves is a dark horse for a high GC placing. The 26-year-old Colombian won a stage at last year’s Giro (as well as two stages of the Vuelta a España on his way to fifth overall.)

Keys to success
Balancing the needs of Ewan and Chaves will be difficult and will take a true team effort. One of the stoutest riders in the peloton, Svein Tuft, will bring raw power and experience to the team’s ambitions.

Riders to watch
Ewan will be a threat on every fast finish, and Chaves could climb onto the overall podium. Together, there will be plenty to do for the Australian team on every stage.

Did you know?
Orica is a multinational company that provides chemicals and explosives for the mining industry.

WorldTour ranking (as of April 24): 7


Giant – Alpecin (Germany)

Everyone wonders if Tom Dumoulin’s incredible performance at last year’s Vuelta a España was a fluke or a portent of things to come. His results at this Giro will provide an answer.

Dumoulin suffered a lack of mountain support at the Vuelta, and it’s not entirely clear that his sprint and classics-oriented team has the roster depth to solve that problem at the Giro. He may be exposed, yet again, and that will offer opportunities for the climbers to attack him. They’ll have to, because he’s going to crush the 60 kilometers of time trials.

Keys to success
In order for Dumoulin to improve upon his showing at the Vuelta, his team must provide more mountain support. If they do that, then let the big man shine in the time trials, the Dutchman could very well finish on the podium.

Riders to watch
Dumoulin is a good bet for the first pink jersey of the race, which opens with a 9.8-kilometer time trial in his home country, as well as for the overall podium. American Chad Haga, returning from a horrible training crash in which he and a number of his teammates were hit by a car, will play a support role.

Did you know?
Dumoulin means “two windmills” in French: Deux moulins.

WorldTour ranking (as of April 24): 18


Cannondale (United States)

The American squad knows what it takes to win the Giro, having delivered Ryder Hesjedal to the overall pink jersey in 2012. This year, the team is banking not on the Canadian but on Colombian Rigoberto Urán. Twice second in the Giro (in 2013 and 2014), and after a sub-par 2015, Urán believes this could be his year. He will be backed by a mix of youth and experience to give him the support in the deep mountains he never saw at Etixx or Sky.

Urán had a quiet early season, riding anonymously at both the Volta ao Algarve in February and Tirreno-Adriatico in March.

Keys to success
Unlike a number of the other GC contenders, Urán will be looking forward to the time trials, where he should take valuable gains against the pure climbers. He isn’t quite as good in the high mountains as Nibali and Landa, but should be able to hold his own, and the combination should be enough for a high overall placing.

Who to watch
In what will be his Giro debut, Joe Dombrowski hopes to have his best climbing legs since turning pro in 2013, to help Urán when it counts in the final week. Since returning from surgery to correct iliac artery endofibrosis, the American has won the Tour of Utah. Davide Formolo, a stage winner in 2015, will also be a much-needed domestique if Urán is to find the final podium.

Did you know?
To prepare for the season and his lofty goals at the Giro, Urán left his high-altitude home in Colombia to attend an organized altitude camp on Tenerife’s Teide volcano for the first time in his career.

WorldTour ranking (as of April 24): 13


Etixx – Quick-Step (Belgium)

After losing Rigoberto Urán, Etixx won’t have a major GC candidate in this year’s Giro. Instead, Bob Jungels, the 23-year-old Luxembourg rider, will have his chance to test the GC waters. But enough about him.

The team’s real focus will be on setting up Marcel Kittel in the bunch sprints. After a promising start to 2016 — including two stage wins, the overall, and the points classification at Dubai Tour, and two stage wins and the points classification at the Volta ao Algarve — Kittel wants a few more Giro stage wins to put his disastrous 2015 season behind him. With the Tour de France on his radar, Kittel might not make it all the way to Torino, so he’ll want to win early and often.

Keys to success
Since it’s not racing for the podium, Etixx will have the freedom to attack and chase stage victories. Kittel will be hoping to double his career haul of two Giro stages, while Jungels will be attacking in hillier terrain.

Who to watch
Gianluca Brambilla is a jack-of-all-trades. He can help Kittel in the sprints but take his own chances in the mountains. He’s twice finished 13th in the Giro. The battle between German powerhouses Kittel and Greipel will add a thrilling element to the seven sprinter-friendly stages.

Did you know?
Since its formation in 2003, the team, in its many iterations — under a number of different title sponsors — has never won a grand tour.

WorldTour ranking (as of April 24): 4


Movistar (Spain)

Any squad containing Alejandro Valverde can’t really be considered a “B team,” but Movistar has certainly reserved some of its best domestiques for Nairo Quintana’s quest for yellow at the Tour de France. That will take some of the punch out of the highest ranked team of 2015, as the hyper-versatile Valverde seeks his first Giro victory.

Still, Valverde will have Andrey Amador, fourth last year, at his side deep into the mountains. Most importantly, the 35-year-old’s ability to up his game, season after season, means the boys in blue and green can’t be counted out.

Keys to success
Movistar will need to make every day in the mountains as hard as possible, giving Valverde a chance to distance himself from the GC contenders who are better time trialists, like Rigoberto Urán and Tom Dumoulin. Valverde knows better than most how to do the rest.

Riders to watch
It’s the Valverde show, and the team will be all-in for his GC hopes. If he falters, watch for Amador to step up. Carlos Betancur also seems to be getting his groove back, happy on a new team and with two wins to his credit so far in 2016.

Did you know?
Amador became the first Costa Rican to win a stage of the Giro, in 2012.

WorldTour ranking (as of April 24): 6


Team Sky (United Kingdom)

Team Sky might rule the Tour de France, but it’s never won the Giro d’Italia (or the Vuelta a España). After falling short in spectacular fashion with Bradley Wiggins in 2013 and Richie Porte in 2015, the British outfit signed Mikel Landa to lead its bid for a first maglia rosa.

A winner of two stages and third overall in 2015, Landa suffered an early season illness that delayed his season debut. But he won the Giro del Trentino in late April. If he hits his stride in the Dolomites, the Basque climber could make a late charge for pink. Still, Landa isn’t the best against the clock, so Sky might have to wait a little longer to win its first pink jersey.

Keys to success
With its emphasis on the GC, Sky will ride to protect Landa in the transition stages. It will be up to the Basque to limit his losses in the time trials and deflect the pressures of team leadership. He’ll anxiously await the high mountains of the third week, which should be where he is most comfortable and able to attack.

Who to watch
After a solid Vuelta in 2015, Ian Boswell is expected to make his Giro debut as one of Landa’s top lieutenants in the mountains. The team will likely bring Irish talents Phil Deignan and Nicholas Roche to support its leader in the mountains.

Did you know?
Landa was inspired to become a racer after watching fellow Basque Iban Mayo attacking up l’Alpe d’Huez.

WorldTour ranking (as of April 24): 2


Astana (Kazakhstan)

Astana has a single goal for this Giro d’Italia: the final pink jersey. Vincenzo Nibali will be the five-star favorite to win the 99th edition of the Italian grand tour, and Astana will bring a squad entirely built around delivering the Sicilian a second career maglia rosa.

A winner in 2013, Nibali is strong in every terrain, so it will be interesting to see if Astana holds some of its firepower in reserve to help Fabio Aru at the Tour de France. Nevertheless, Nibali will be able to count on Tanel Kangert and Valerio Agnoli to carry him to the base of the important climbs. Michele Scarponi, winner of the 2011 Giro, will be his last lieutenant in the deep mountains. After that, Nibali will turn on the afterburners in his quest for a second pink jersey.

Keys to success
The team will have its work cut out keeping Nibali protected through the time trials. As the team of the odds-on favorite, Astana will be expected to control the race. Once he clears the hurdle of the first two weeks, Nibali will be able to take flight in the mountains of the final week.

Who to watch
The team’s only goal is to put Nibali in pink. If he’s flying and things are on track, watch for Scarponi to try and win a stage.

Did you know?
Nibali is one of only two active riders who have won all three grand tours. The other is Alberto Contador.

WorldTour Ranking (as of April 24): 16