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After early hiccups, Omega Pharma backs Cavendish at the Giro d’Italia

Belgian squad backs Manxman in his bid for stage wins

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Mark Cavendish will have a full Omega Pharma-Quick Step squad at his disposal as he chases stage wins at the Giro d’Italia.

The former world champion will target the maglia rosa as the race opens in Naples on Saturday and his presence will change the team’s approach to the season’s first grand tour.

“We start with a very good team built around Mark Cavendish,” team director Davide Bramati said in a press release. “In any stage where we have a possibility, we have to try to do our best to go for the win. I think an immediate important moment will be the first stage in Napoli. Everyone wants to fight for the first pink jersey. The competition is fierce, but we can count on a good group. We believe in our team and we will be there to try to fight and win.”

Supporting Cavendish late in the sprints will be leadout men Gert Steegmans, Iljo Keisse, and Matteo Trentin. Each has helped Cavendish, who lost the Giro’s sprint jersey on the final weekend in 2012, to at least one victory this season. The Manxman’s train has encountered difficulties, however, in 2013, with Cavendish expressing his disappointment after falling short of a stage win at Tirreno-Adriatico and team boss Patrick Lefevere doing the same after the Scheldeprijs. Cavendish has won eight times this season, including the overall at the Tour of Qatar (and team time trial at Tirreno), but Omega Pharma’s leadout has been inconsistent.

With Cavendish’s sights set on stage wins, the team will not chase the general classification. It will, however, take stage hunters Jerome Pineau and Polish national champion Michal Golas to Italy.

“Beside Mark, we go into the race with experienced guys such as Golas and Pineau who have experience going for the stage victories at the Giro,” Bramati said. “We also count on young Julien Vermote in his second participation in the Giro. … We go into this race with a good group that will do their best for all possibilities in all stages.”

Omega Pharma-Quick Step for 2013 Giro d’Italia:
Gianluca Brambilla (ITA)
Mark Cavendish (GBR)
Michal Golas (POL)
Iljo Keisse (BEL)
Serge Pauwels (BEL)
Jerome Pineau (FRA)
Gert Steegmans (BEL)
Matteo Trentin (ITA)
Julien Vermote (BEL)

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