Geraint Thomas will be supported by two British riders as he bids to win a second Grand Tour at the Giro d’Italia.
Tao Geoghegan Hart and Ben Swift will be part of the eight-man squad, which also includes new world time trial champion Filippo Ganna.
Another favourite for the three-week race is Britain’s Simon Yates of Michelton-Scott, who beat Thomas to victory at the Tirreno-Adriatico.
The Giro begins on Saturday with a time trial to Palermo in Sicily.
Thomas, who won the Tour de France in 2018, came fourth in the Road World Championships time trial last Friday behind Ganna, but two seconds ahead of Rohan Dennis – another time trial specialist who will support Thomas at the Giro.
The race has three time trials, one at the start – a 15km run from Monreale to Palermo on the island of Sicily, a 34km race to Valdobbiadene on stage 14 and on the final day a 15.7km run into Milan.
Battle of the Britons
Following a hugely disappointing Tour de France, in which Egan Bernal abandoned the race after losing a staggering seven minutes to the leaders on stage 15, Ineos will see the Giro as their new primary focus.
But Yates’ Michelton-Scott team always had the Giro in mind for their big moment in 2020, backing him with their strongest possible line-up to win the race, which will also include several mountain stages in the Italian and French Alps.
Yates’ twin brother Adam wore the yellow jersey for four days during the recent Tour de France, but the team were only ever focusing on stage wins.
The 3,497.9km race could suit Thomas, 34, better than Yates – two of the riders expected to be in contention for victory – if the Welshman can take advantage of a superior time trialling ability.
“I’m excited to lead the team again in Italy and I feel ready,” said Thomas. “It’s been a strange year for everyone but it’s great to have this big objective. The legs are feeling good – Tirreno went well and then the world time trial was a confidence booster for me. Now stage one is nearly here and I’m more motivated than ever.”
But Yates, who won the 2018 Vuelta a Espana, recently got the better of Thomas at the Tirreno-Adriatico, beating him to the blue jersey by 17 seconds.
Yates, 28 said: “Tirreno was a great victory and I’m very proud of what I accomplished there, but the big goal has always been the Giro, so I hope I can hold my form from there until the end of the Giro.
“Normally at the Giro the weather is getting better day-by-day as we start in spring and approach summer, whereas this year will be the complete opposite.
“I’m expecting some bad weather and I’m mentally prepared for that.”
The weather is expected to play a significant part in the race after it was rescheduled from its usual May slot to October because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Several of the summit finishes of the stages have already been covered in snow, which could lead to stages being re-routed or cancelled.
Other contenders include Steven Kruijswijk of Jumbo-Visma, Astana’s Jakob Fuglsang and two-time winner Vincenzo Nibali of Trek-Segafredo.
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