JOHANNESBURG – Team Dimension Data for Qhubeka line up for the 100th edition of the Giro d’Italia on Friday, the African team’s second crack at the prestigious European event.
Dimension Data bring a strong roster eager to fight for glory in Italy during what is bound to be three weeks of hard racing. This year’s Giro d’Italia is set to be one for the yearbooks.
Not only is it the centenary edition of the race, it also presents one of the strongest fields in many years. The course is beautifully designed with the opening stages on the islands of Sardinia and Sicily before moving in-land to take on the remaining part of the race.
Igor Antón, Natnael Berhane and Omar Fraile will have their say in the mountains, while Kristian Sbaragli and young South African debutant Ryan Gibbons (winner of the Tour de Langkawi) will be the cards to play in the sprints.
Jacques Janse van Rensburg, Daniel Teklehaimanot and Johann van Zyl will be important players for setting up their team-mates and trying their own luck in the breaks, while Nathan Haas will have a chance to fight for glory in the undulating stages.
"It’s a privilege to be a part of the centenary Giro d’Italia for Team Dimension Data for Qhubeka and we are looking forward to a spectacular race," said Dimension Data team principle, Doug Ryder.
"We’re really happy to take a very strong team to the Giro including five African riders, one of whom is Ryan Gibbons, our young South African who will make his grand tour debut. This is something incredibly special for him but it also shows this team has come an incredibly long way.
"We have a deep passion for the Giro d’Italia and Italian cycling, and as a team we have committed to racing the 100th edition of the Giro d’Italia to put 100 girls on bicycles through Qhubeka."
The first three stages look to be a matter for the sprinters, even though stage two may produce a surprise winner with a late climb before a long descent towards the finishing line. After these three opening stages, the riders get their first rest day as they fly to Sicily to continue the race with a difficult mountain top finish on the Etna volcano.
Two of the following four stages are made for the sprinters, while the other two both include a short uphill finish to shake things up. Another day in the mountains awaits on stage nine before the riders can enjoy yet another rest day.
This time, however, they really need it in order to recharge the batteries before the 39.8-kilometre long individual time trial on stage 10, which will have a huge impact on the general classification.
The following day is an undulating stage to Bagno di Romagna, which could easily see a strong break make it all the way. The sprinters will have their final chance to shine in stage 12 and 13 before the race moves into the mountains, where it stays until the very last day.
Stage 14 finishes with a 12km ascent up to the iconic Oropa sanctuary, while the following stage pays homage to Giro il Lombardia as the peloton takes on the same course on the final 50km as in the Italian one-day race. Afterwards follows the final rest day of the race and, once again, the riders really need it.
Dimension Data’s Giro D’italia lineup: Igor Antón, Natnael Berhane, Omar Fraile, Ryan Gibbons, Nathan Haas, Jacques Janse van Rensburg, Kristian Sbaragli, Daniel Teklehaimanot and Johann Van Zyl.