Giro d'Italia

Tiago Machado to lead RadioShack at 2011 Giro d’Italia

Tiago Machado will lead RadioShack at the 2011 Giro.

Portuguese rider Tiago Machado will get a chance to show off his GC chops as leader of RadioShack during the Giro d’Italia.

The Shack also brings sprinters Robbie McEwen, Robbie Hunter and Manuel Cardoso for the flat stages, but the team hopes Machado can live up to his promise and post a strong performance in what will be his grand tour debut.

“We believe in Tiago. He’s still young and he has a lot to learn, but he’s proven himself in his first year with our team that he has everything in him to perform well in hard stage races,” said team manager Johan Bruyneel in a team release.

“Last year, he finished seven out of 10 times in the top 10 in every stage race. This year, he’s never missed the top 10. If he can do the same in this Giro, we will be happy.”

Also lining up for RadioShack will be Yaroslav Popovych, who once finished on the Giro podium with third back in 2003. Now 31, Popovych will have a free hand to go on the attack to hunt for a stage win. The same goes for Philip Deignan, the Irish rider who popped into the top 10 in the 2009 Vuelta a España, but struggled throughout the 2010 season.

Bjorn Selander will be the team’s lone American and the 23-year-old will be making his grand-tour debut with hopes of helping the team, learning the ropes and making it to Milano.

Bruyneel is hoping Machado to deliver a big ride, but they don’t want to heap too much pressure on him just yet.

“Tiago can make a big step forward,” Bruyneel continued. “He can be one of the protagonists of the Giro. Since we don’t know he will perform in a race of three weeks, we will not put any pressure on him. You can see this as an experiment, but sometimes we’ve been very lucky with similar experiments in the past.”

RadioShack for Giro d’Italia: Fumiyuki Beppu, Manuel Cardoso, Philip Deignan, Robbie Hunter, Tiago Machado, Robbie McEwen, Yaroslav Popovych, Ivan Rovny, Bjorn Selander