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Intermarché-Wanty aims for stage victories

This Saturday 4 May, Intermarché-Wanty will line up for the fourth Giro d'Italia in its history in the Piedmontese town of Venaria Reale, with Rome as end destination on Sunday 26th of May. On the road to the capital city, the Walloon World Team aims to get back to winning ways, as it has done on three memorable occasions in the three previous editions.

The 21 stages of this 107th edition, which stay almost entirely within Italy’s borders, are divided into six stages with summit finishes, two individual time trials totalling 71 kilometres, six flat stages and seven hilly stages, including one with gravel roads.

PARCOURS

The start of the first Grand Tour of the season will be explosive, with the climbs of Superga and Colle della Madellena to conquer during the opening stage to Turin, followed the next day by the first uphill finish on the slopes of Santuario di Oropa. Opportunities for sprinters precede a stage containing white Tuscan gravel roads on day six, with twelve non-asphalted kilometres divided into three sectors. The first time trial is scheduled the following day with 40 kilometres in the province of Umbria. Before the first restday, the peloton will cover a mountain stage to Prati di Tivo and a long day to Naples, one of the four stages of over 200 kilometres. 

The second week starts with a stage from Pompei, the most southern point of this edition, to a summit finish in Cusano Mutri. Before the next mountain battles in the Alps, there are two new opportunities for sprinters in Francavilla al mare and Cento, a hilly transition stage to Fano, and the second individual time trial on day fourteen with 30 relatively flat kilometres in the province of Brescia. The second rest day follows after the summit finish in Livigno, at an altitude of 2400 metres, which is preceded by a passage over the Mortirolo (13 km at 7.5%).

The Giro stays loyal to its reputation with a particularly difficult third week in the Alps and Dolomites. The Passo dello Stelvio (20km at 7.5%) has to be covered on day sixteen before the uphill finish on top of Monte Prana, followed by five mountains the next day on the road to the finish on top of Passo del Brocon (12km at 6.5%). After a flat stage to Padova and a medium mountain stage to Sappada, the final battle in the high mountains includes a double ascent of Monte Grappa on the penultimate day. Just like last year, the Giro is concluded with a circuit through the streets of the Roman capital.

ROSTER 

Two years after his resounding debut in the Tour of Italy, Biniam Girmay is making his return to the Giro. In 2022, the Eritrean cyclist made an unforgettable impression by becoming the first rider from black Africa to win a Grand Tour stage on day ten in Jesi, in addition to five other top 5 finishes in the first week and several days in the white jersey and the cyclamen jersey. 

To support him in the sprint stages, he can rely on the experience of Adrien Petit and Dion Smith, with whom he completed the Tour de France last year. The Frenchman will discover the Giro, his seventh Grand Tour, just like Smith, who recently claimed his first podium for the World Team at the Tour de Romandie.

For Lilian Calmejane, another experienced element in the selection led by Aike Visbeek, Steven De Neef and Pieter Vanspeybrouck, this second participation in the Giro d’Italia is an opportunity to complete the trilogy and become part of the select group of stage winners in the three Grand Tours. 

Four young talents will be making their Grand Tour debut in this Giro, including Lombard climber Kevin Colleoni, who will race close to home in the second week. Dries De Pooter and Madis Mihkels, who joined the Walloon structure together in 2022, make a new step in their development at the age of 21 and 20 respectively. Finally, Roel van Sintmaartensdijk, who turns 23 during the first week, is the first rider from the development project Wanty-ReUz-Technord to be selected for a Grand Tour.

"We're heading to the start of the Giro d'Italia with the ambition of winning a stage. With Biniam Girmay, we focus on all sprint opportunities, particularly those at the start of the Giro with a hilly profile, which suit us best. He has also chances in the flat stages tailor-made for pure sprinters, as he showed again this year in Australia and Tirreno-Adriatico. Many teams head to the Giro with the same ambition as us, the list of sprinters in this edition is exceptionally qualitative and long. This will undoubtedly have an impact on the way the race unfolds, with numerous sprint trains and chaotic finishes. So it's an advantage that Biniam is surrounded by experienced riders to guide him. He can rely on the support of Adrien Petit and Dion Smith, who bring their common experience of last summer's Tour de France, as well as on the advice of our sprint coach Pieter Vanspeybrouck. With his third place in the Tour de Romandie on Sunday, Smith confirmed that he is in good shape. Just like them, our young talent Madis Mihkels already performed a winning lead out this season, for Biniam in the Surf Coast Classic." "We'll also be looking out for opportunities in the transition stages, with other profiles like Lilian Calmejane, who won in the Tour and the Vuelta thanks to a breakaways. The absence of Simone Petilli due to a crash some weeks ago is of course regrettable. He finished close to a stage win on Gran Sasso last year. But the absences of Simone and Gerben Thijssen created opportunities for our young talents, who will be able to take advantage of their first Grand Tour. Like Laurenz Rex and Arne Marit in the previous edition, our young riders like Mihkels, Roel van Sintmaartensdijk, Dries De Pooter and Kevin Colleoni will be able to discover a three week race without any pressure, and they'll leave this Giro richer and with a lot more confidence, as it represents an important phase in their development."

Quotes from the press conference

Ahead of the start of the Tour of Italy scheduled for this Saturday, May 4, the Intermarché-Wanty team presented its ambitions during a press conference this Friday, May 3 in Cavaglià, in the presence of Biniam Girmay, stage winner on the 2022 edition, Performance Manager Aike Visbeek and Roel van Sintmaartensdijk, one of the four members of the selection to make their debut on a Grand Tour.

“Returning to the Giro brings a certain pride. I have always dreamed of participating in the Grand Tours, inspired by my compatriots like Daniel Teklehaimanot. Now I am the one who inspires the young people of my country and Africa. In Eritrea, I know that everyone will be watching each stage with enthusiasm in cafes and cinemas. This Giro means a lot for my country. I hope to make them proud, just like my two compatriots present at the start of this Giro, and repeat the same performance as in 2022 with a stage victory. » “My first Giro two years ago was an exceptional experience on a personal and collective level. If I compare myself to today, I am even sharper, I climb better and I am able to do a good sprint to play for victory. I followed an ideal preparation with three weeks of quality training at altitude. My goal is to achieve a stage victory, by being competitive in all sprints, whether on flat or hilly stages. We will approach the race day by day, and if the opportunity presents itself, why not join the fight for the cyclamen jersey. But the priority is to win a stage. » “The classics campaign was also beneficial for me to better manage difficult weather conditions such as cold and rain with the E3 Classic and the Tour of Flanders. Even if the expected conditions in Italy are always more favorable than in Belgium you can still be confronted with cold in the mountains and it is therefore important to negotiate this aspect well. Our team is fortunate to have warm equipment thanks to Verge Sport and I am confident that we can control this factor to remain efficient throughout the Giro. »

“I’m so happy to make my debut in the Giro d’Italia, because I love racing on these roads. I remember, last year, having a wonderful experience on the Giro Next Gen with Wanty-ReUz-Technord. To be at the start of the Giro a year later with Intermarché-Wanty gives a great pride. I had optimal preparation with the classics campaign and a few days of rest. Last week, I was able to accumulate competitive kilometers through the mountains of the Tour de Romandie, where I had good sensations. So I can't wait to start these three weeks, where I want to make myself useful to the team. With a leader like Biniam Girmay, our motivation is very high to fight for victory. My role will be to protect the sprint train by keeping it out of danger as much as possible. On a personal level, I’m looking forward to the two time trials. With the team we are constantly investing to develop in this discipline and it will be interesting to see how I can perform. I am clear-headed for my first Grand Tour, there will be difficult moments to negotiate. For this, I am lucky to have a cheerful and experienced roommate like Adrien Petit, who gives me confidence and motivation before these three weeks. »

“Our objective is clear, we are on this Giro with Biniam Girmay as the leader to aim for stage victory. In 2022, he was particularly strong in sprint finishes with a smaller group. Over the last two seasons, we have worked on putting together a fixed train to support it, which today allows Biniam to be more competitive in mass sprints. He also learned to fight for his place during chaotic finals. Considering his age, his development is going well. He is capable of competing for victory, that’s why this Giro is important for him. He will have many opportunities to participate in the finals and make this goal a reality. » “To surround him, we assembled a sprint train with two experienced figures, Dion Smith and Adrien Petit in the role of captain. With them, Biniam has already completed the Tour de France and reached the podium against a particularly strong field of sprinters. But also we will be able to count on our young talents Dries De Pooter, Madis Mihkels and Roel van Sintmaartensdijk. They are very motivated and, despite their age, they already have good experience in this role. They had the opportunity to get to know each other during their training camp and in the case of Madis, he notably led Biniam to victory during the Surf Coast Classic last January. » “With Lilian Calmejane and Kevin Colleoni we have two riders who can enjoy freedom and ride offensively. Lilian has already won a stage on the Tour and La Vuelta, winning this Giro would allow him to complete the trilogy. He is a competitor, who always strives to win. He refined his preparation for the Ardennes classics, where he appeared in the breakaway twice. He knows better than anyone how to manage a final in this type of effort. With Kevin, we worked hard last winter to compensate for a season and a half of back problems. He is now starting to get the rewards and showed a good level in the difficult stages of the Basque Country and on the Ardennes classics. If his form continues to grow throughout the Giro, he could well be the surprise. In addition to opportunities in the breakaways, he will be important in the hilly stages where we aim for the sprint with Biniam. »

RESULTS

General Classification

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