UAE Team Emirates’ Alexander Kristoff will step up as team leader once again at a race he has dominated during its last three editions.
The Norwegian sprinter has now stood on the top step of the Eschborn Frankfurt podium three times, winning the race in 2014, 2016 and 2017.
Kristoff will be supported by a strong team, which includes his fellow countryman Sven Erik Bystom, an Italian quartet of Filippo Ganna, Oliverio Troia, Simone Consonni and Roberto Ferrari along with the promising young Belarussian Alexandr Riabushenko.
Commenting ahead of the one day classic, the 30-year-old said: “I think the race will be difficult for me to win this year as the course will be shorter and more demanding.
“However, I have a good relationship with Eschborn-Frankfurt and I’d love to make history by becoming the first ever rider to take top spot four times in a row.”
The Eschborn-Frankfurt Classic, which is the most iconic cycling race in Germany, sees riders take on the challenging Taunus Hills as they battle 212kms of road and over 3,500 vertical meters of climbing.
Elsewhere, Roberto Ferrari raced to a podium finish on the final stage of the Tour de Romandie on Saturday and helped UAE Team Emirates win its first Team Classification of the season.
Rui Costa, Daniel Martin and Kristijan Durasek closed out the General Classification in fifth, 10th and 15th respectively, with Slovenian rider Primoz Roglic (Lotto NL-Jumbo) clinching the overall title.
Team leader Martin said: “It was a good week in view of my season’s goal, the Tour de France. As a team, we’re happy with the overall classification, and thrilled that we were able to get on the podium as the best team in this edition of the Tour de Romandie.”
UAE TEAM EMIRATES LINE-UP: Kristoff (Norway), Bystom (Norway), Ganna (Italy), Troia (Italy), Consonni (Italy), Ferrari (Italy), Riabushenko (Belarus)
The event is seen as the second most important race in cycling – behind the Tour de France – and favours strong climbers and puncheurs.
The 27-year-old Sardinian, who finished second in the 2015 edition of the race, will be supported by an experienced team in Italy including compatriots Diego Ullisi, Valerio Conti, Manuele Mori and Marco Marcato.
Joining them will be the promising trio of Jan Polanc, Darwin Atapuma and Vegard Stake Laengen.
Aru, who achieved a season’s best top-six finish at the Tour of Alps last week, will be among the favourites to win the Giro.
UAE Team Emirates General Manager Giuseppe Saronni said: “Fabio is going to the Giro d’Italia with a huge desire to make an impact. This feeling of strong sentiment towards the Corsa Rosa will allow him to give his best in every situation.
“At his side are a group of riders who share the same emotions and are able to manage the possible scenarios correctly.
“Four Italians in our team give this roster a strong local flavour to honour the Giro d’Italia and give the most attention to our fifth Italian Fabio Aru.
“The three non-Italians Atapuma, Laengen and Polanc have shown their love for this race and their ability to contribute to the group.
“Let’s not forget that these riders know about success, just think of the six stage wins by Ulissi, two by Polanc and three by Aru.”
Line-up: Fabio Aru (Italy), Matteo Bono (Italy), Manuele Mori (Italy), Jan Polanc (Slovenia), Diego Ulissi (Italy), Valerio Conti (Italy), Darwin Atapuma (Colombia) and Vegard Stake Laengen (Norway)
Chris Froome will lead Team Sky in next month’s Giro d’Italia as he targets victory in a third straight Grand Tour event despite an ongoing probe into an adverse doping test, the team announced Friday.
The British rider is taking part in the event, which starts from May 4 to 27.
Froome admitted there was a risk in making a serious assault on the Giro so close to his expected attempt to retain his Tour de France title, but said he would regret it for the rest of his career if he did not attempt it.
He completed an historic Tour de France-Vuelta a Espana double in September.
“The Giro is special and full of history, and I am looking forward to racing it again after almost a decade,” said Froome.
“I’ve had a different start to the season as I’ve obviously been aiming to try and reach my peak quite a bit earlier than usual. But the target of going for a third consecutive Grand Tour has given me new motivation.
“Of course there is an element of risk involved in targeting the Giro before the Tour, but I think I would regret it for the rest of my life if I didn’t give this race a go.”
Froome, 32, has been embroiled in a legal and scientific wrangle with the International Cycling Union’s (UCI’s) independent anti-doping unit since he returned an adverse analytical finding for the asthma drug salbutamol at the Vuelta a Espana.
Referring to the test, he said: “I also recognise the wider issues and as I have said before I am doing everything I can, together with the team, to help resolve them as quickly as possible.
“In the meantime I am focused on racing. I would love to win the maglia rosa (the pink jersey for the winner of the Giro), but I am under no illusions whatsoever about how hard the race will be.”
Froome insists there has been no wrongdoing on his or the team’s part.
Although salbutamol is permitted in certain doses, Froome gave a urine reading of twice the allowed limit. The investigation is ongoing and Froome continues to compete.
The other members of Team Sky for the Giro are David de la Cruz, Kenny Elissonde, Sergio Henao, Vasil Kiryienka, Christian Knees, Wout Poels and Salvatore Puccio.
Team principal Dave Brailsford said: “Chris is also going for a third consecutive Grand Tour. Everyone in cycling knows just how tough that is. We have a strong, talented and versatile team supporting him. Every rider will have an important contribution to make.
“This year’s race promises to be a very tough edition with some of the hardest mountain climbs in cycling including Mount Etna and the Zoncolan.”