Mark Cavendish and Marco Pinotti headline HTC-Highroad’s Giro d’Italia squad that will be looking to win stages in all terrain.
While the team doesn’t have a strong GC candidate to win the Giro outright, the team will bring a mix of riders who can win stages in sprints, breakaways and time trials.
“We’re fielding a top quality line-up, with our first objective being the opening team time trial in Turin,” said HTC-Highroad’s sports director Valerio Piva in a team release. “In the first twelve stages or so, there are four or five that look certain to end in bunch sprints and afterwards we’ve got Marco [Pinotti] and Kanstantsin [Sivtsov] for the overall classification, with Craig Lewis providing a lot of support for them in the mountains.”
Leading the squad will be sprinter ace Mark Cavendish. The prolific sprinter will be back at the Giro after racing at the Tour of California last year. Cav won two Giro stages in 2008 and three in 2009 as well as held the leader’s pink jersey after HTC won the TTT to open the Giro that year.
Mark Renshaw will be back to pilot Cavendish to the line in the bunch sprints while others will be at the team’s disposal to work on stages tailored toward a sprint finish.
“Italy’s like a second home for Mark [Cavendish] and he’s always loved the race. He’s very motivated and we’ll see what he can do,” Piva said. “With the whole team to support him, and with Mark Renshaw as his lead-out man, he’s going to be very difficult to beat.”
Craig Lewis will be back for his second Giro start. Last year, in his grand tour debut, Lewis nearly won the 13th to Cesenatico when attacked in the final kilometer out of the day’s winning breakaway. Lewis will be looking once again for breakaway opportunities as well as helping the team.
Kanstantsin Sivtsov will be the team’s best GC hope as well as a stage-hunter while Italian veteran Marco Pinotti, who was ninth overall in last year’s Giro and winner of the final-day time trial in 2008, will be looking to repeat those performances.
“Marco finished in the top ten last year, and Kanstantsin is one of the most consistent guys around when it comes to the third week of racing in a major tour,” Piva said.
Others, such as Lars Bak and Alex Rasmussen, will likely get a free hand to ride for stage victories when a sprint finish looks unlikely.
The team will be among the favorites for victory in the opening team time trial in Torino.
“It’s flat, and parts of it are very technical – similar to the one in Venice in 2009. As a lot of it takes place over city roads, it could be slippery and you can’t afford to take risks even if it rains just a little,” Piva points out. “A lot of it will take place on Turin’s biggest boulevards, so visually, it should be a really spectacular. A high-speed start to the race. We’ve got some top time trial specialists in our line-up, so I think we can be confident of a good result.”
HTC-Highroad for Giro d’Italia
● Mark Cavendish
● Mark Renshaw
● Marco Pinotti
● Kanstantsin Sivtsov
● Lars Bak
● Patrick Gretsch
● Craig Lewis
● Frantisek Rabon
● Alex Rasmussen