This Saturday the first 3-week stage race of the year gets underway. The Giro d’Italia. There are 39 mountains in total in the event; however the first stage is a 19 kilometer team time-trial. The riders must also complete 1 mountain time-trial on 24 May and a further individual time-trial on 29 May. The Omega Pharma-Lotto team will be sending an 8-strong team to the event.
Jan Bakelants | Belgium
He is in his 3rd year as a pro and this will be his 2nd Giro d’Italia. In 2010 after the Giro he made a short break but was again in action at the Tour of Spain. This year he has already finished in the top 5 at the Vuelta a Catalunya. As Philippe Gilbert’s helper at the Amstel Gold Race he still managed to finish in 34th place. Before he made it into the pro ranks he was even able to win the U-23 version of Liege-Bastogne-Liege.
Adam Blythe | Great Britain
At the age of just 21 he is the baby of the Omega Pharma-Lotto team at this year’s Giro d’Italia. In his first year as a pro he already exceeded his own expectations. He originally wanted to win one event, but gained two victories including overall victory in the Circuit Franco Belge. Adam therefore passed his baptism of fire!
In last year’s Giro d’Italia he had to retire from the race on stage 11. This year the chances are good that he’ll make it to Milan.
Bart De Clercq | Belgium
In his first year as a pro Bart De Clercq showed what he’s made of. He confirmed his good early season form with a good performance at Paris-Nice. There he also staked his claim for a place on the team at the Giro and is an important pillar of the team.
Gert Dockx | Belgium
He is one of Andre Greipel’s trusted helpers and came with him from the HTC-Columbia team to Omega Pharma-Lotto. This will be the 22 year-old Belgian’s first big stage race. It remains to be seen how he will cope with the exertions of such a demanding event.
Olivier Kaisen | Belgium
Olivier Kaisen has been part of the team for six years now. This experience will certainly pay off on long stage races. He has already taken part in six major stage races and finished all six. Four times in the Tour of Spain and twice in the Giro – this is already in his biography. This year he will be taking part in at least 1 major event with the Giro.
Sebastian Lang | Germany
At 31 he is one of the most experienced riders in the young group. He has already got several years as a pro under his belt and knows how a team can achieve its aims. He was one of the most reliable helpers for Jurgen Van den Broeck at the Tour de France in 2010. It was the former German time-trial champion’s job to keep his captain out of the wind. This year is his second appearance at the Giro and alongside his important job in the team he will also be giving us his views on events during the entire race in our blog.
Klaas Lodewyck | Belgium
During his first season with Omega Pharma-Lotto Klaas Lodewyck already achieved some excellent finishes and is now being rewarded for that success with his selection for the Giro d’Italia, the first big stage race of the season. Although the young Belgian doesn’t have any real experience in this type of event, he’ll still be able to rely on the help of his teammates and the team management.
Jussi Veikkanen | Finland
Jussi is one of the most popular finnish cyclists. Last year he won the national championship in Finland and has been pulling on his national champion’s jersey ever since. He knows all about stage races having started the Tour de France, the Tour of Spain and the Giro. Nobody can take those experiences away from him. This year at the Giro he will be pulling out all the stops to be a worthy representative of his country’s national colours.
On Saturday we shall see just how this young, international team is going to fare. Eurosport will be showing all the stages live and will also be providing lots of other information over the course of the 3 week event.