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Giro d'Italia

V. Piva : “A team to win, no matter the terrain”

This Friday, Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux will line up for its second Tour of Italy (2.UWT) in its history. The 105th edition of the Giro will start in Budapest with three days in Hungary before reaching Italy on day four.

In 2021, Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux took a memorable stage win thanks to Taco van der Hoorn in Canale, the first success of the team in a Grand Tour. The team was omnipresent in the race and finished nine times in the top ten with five different riders.

For the 2022 edition, the organization divided the parcours in seven flat stages, six in the middle mountains and six others in the high mountains, with also two time trials on the second and the final day. The first maglia rosa will be handed over to the strongest rider on a climb of 5 kilometer (4.2%) in Visegrád.

After an individual time trial of 9.2 kilometer and a flat stage, the peloton reaches Italy via Sicily. The top of the Etna, the first of seven mountain top finishes, is waiting for the riders during the two day stay on the island.

Both rest days is preceded by a difficult mountain stage, which brings the peloton respectively to the top of Blockhaus (9th stage) in the Apennines and Cogne (15th stage) in the Alps. This last one is an appetizer of what’s waiting for the riders in a very challenging third week.

The famous Passo del Mortirolo has to be covered halfway through the sixteenth stage, while an altitude of 2000 meter is exceeded on the penultimate day on the Passo Pordoi and the finish on the top of the Passo Fedaia. The Tour of Italy finished with an individual time trial of 17 kilometer though the streets of Verona.

For the sixteenth time in his career, Domenico Pozzovivo will be at the start of his national Tour. The winner of a stage in Lago Laceno (2012), finished six times in the top ten of the general classification among whom two fifth places (2014 & 2018). The climber finished in the top ten of 40 difficult stages.

Another stage winner in the line up is Rein Taaramäe, thanks to a strong performance on Sant’Anna di Vinadio in 2016. In the latest Vuelta he became the first rider of the team to wear a leader’s jersey in a Grand Tour. He also dreamed of pink last year during his breakaway in the fourth stage, in which he finished ninth.

The Czech climber Jan Hirt, will participate to the Giro for the second year in a row just like Taaramäe. The recent winner of the Tour of Oman was among the best climbers in the third week last year, obtaining fourteenth place in Alpe di Mera and eleventh in Alpe Motta. He finished twelfth in the edition of 2017 and took second place in the stage towards Ponte du Legno in 2019, which contained the Passo del Mortirolo.

Together, the three climbers participated 44 times to the Grand Tours. In contrary, it will be the first time for Biniam Girmay (22) and Barnabás Peák (23). The Eritrean rider was the first African to win a major classic in Ghent-Wevelgem and will start his first three-week event in the native city of his teammate and lead out Peák.

Belgian rider Aimé De Gendt, who discovered the roads of Le Tour with the World Team in 2019, will make his debut in the Giro alongside his compatriot Loïc Vliegen, who obtained two podium finishes this season before his second Tour of Italy. Lombard rider Lorenzo Rota will race on home roads in his fourth Giro under the direction of Steven De Neef and Valerio Piva.

« In our first Tour of Italy last season, we achieved success thanks to the aggressive racing style for which we are known. We aim to keep this identity during the next three weeks. This is why we chose for a balanced team, which will enable us to fight for the victory no matter the terrain. » « A lot of climbing is included in this edition, especially during a very challenging third week. We will take our ambition for the general classification day by day. In my eyes, the best climbers will automatically appear on top of the rankings once we're in this final week. Domenico Pozzovivo has the capabilities to be one of them, with the support of Jan Hirt and Rein Taaramäe. » « Together, our climbers have a lot of experience in Grand Tours and in this regard they can play an important role for Biniam Girmay and Barnabás Peák, who both circled the first week on their calendar. From the first days in Hungary, several nice opportunities are waiting for our 22 year old Eritrean rider, who is motivated to make our colors shine in the flat and hilly stages, just like Aimé De Gendt, Lorenzo Rota and Loïc Vliegen. »

« At the start of my sixteenth Tour of Italy, my main goal is to finish among the ten best riders in the general classification. This challenge motivates me since my accident in 2019, after which the doctors showed their doubts about my abilities to ride a bike. This year, there's not one distinct favorite, there are several candidates for the overall victory so I'm expecting an exciting race. In my opinion, the difficulty of the first two weeks is higher than usual. » « From all stages, the seventh towards Potenza is the one I know best since it crosses my region. I also did the recon of the stage on the next day around Napoli, and also the Etna. I braved snow and ice cold circumstances to do the recon of the seventeenth stage towards Lavarone during my altitude camp on the neighboring ski station Val Senales. This type of preparation led to good results in the past, so I'm looking to the next three weeks with confidence! »

« As a kid I watched the Tour de France and the Giro d'Italia on television with my friends. I went out on the bike dreaming of participating to a Grand Tour and this Friday my childhood dream becomes reality. My performances since the start of the season, I admit that they exceeded the expectations, enable me to start in Budapest with ambition. With the team, we aim for a stage victory. If I manage to achieve this, I would become the first black African to win a Grand Tour stage. Just like my medal at the world championships and my victory in Ghent-Wevelgem, this would mean a lot to my country, to the African continent and to cycling in general. »

« I just got back from a training camp of several weeks on Tenerife, where I benefited from excellent weather conditions. So my preparation went well. My role in the Giro will be to help Biniam Girmay as good as possible in the stages which suit him, and why not choose one stage in which I can play a role myself. I already roomed with Biniam several times this season and we understand each other well. The way he handles the pressure fascinates me. As it is his first Grand Tour, I want to share the experience I've built in the past. »

« It is with a lot of joy and proudness that I will make my Grand Tour debut a couple of kilometer away from my home and among an incredible group of riders and staff members! The team presentation on Heroes' Square was already un unforgettable experience, of course my family and friends were there. During our recon of the opening stage, I saw that my fans painted my name on the final climb, which gives me another boost of motivation. » « This final climb in Visegrád is rather rolling, so I'm expecting a fast final and a sprint with a large group. The time trial on the next day also motivates me, because this is a fantastic opportunity to perform in my favorite discipline on the roads I know so well. The final of the third stage next to the Lake Balaton will definitely offer a spectacular conclusion on Hungarian soil. My preparation went well, I feel ready to support Biniam Girmay during the next three weeks! »


General Classification


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