• Michael Hepburn, Caleb Ewan and Alex Edmondson are three of the seven Australians at the 100th Giro d'Italia. (Getty)Source: Getty
Seven Australians will start the 100th Giro d’Italia on Friday with sprinter Caleb Ewan keen to make his mark after levelling with the best in Abu Dhabi earlier this year.
Sophie Smith

Cycling Central
5 May 2017 - 9:58 AM  UPDATED 5 May 2017 - 12:02 PM

Orica-Scott will target sprint stages with Ewan as well as the overall with wry British climber Adam Yates, who finished fourth overall at the Tour de France last season.

Ewan was buoyed with confidence when he squarely beat sprint giants Mark Cavendish and Andre Greipel to line honours in the final, rain-soaked stage of the Abu Dhabi Tour in February. He’ll enter the first Grand Tour of the season on the back of the Tour de Yorkshire in which he marked a stint in the leader’s jersey.

The 22-year-old importantly has support and will be able to count on engines including compatriots Michael Hepburn and Alex Edmondson to aid him in the hectic flat stages. Ewan will, however, be without chief pilot Roger Kluge, who was not selected.

Nathan Haas is part of an opportunistic Dimension Data squad, which includes Igor Anton, and will have his own shot at line honours in “undulating stages”.

The 28-year-old has approached the 2017 season differently to years previous and after a full stint of racing in Australia over the summer effectively pressed “reset” and predominately trained, over raced, in the lead-up to the Ardennes Classics. There he marked a solid campaign finishing fourth at Amstel Gold.

“This centenary Giro has a demanding parcour particularly in the last week where the GC will certainly be decided. Before this tough final week though, there are numerous opportunities for the riders to try to win a stage. Some of those stages are pure sprint stages but others have that ‘little something’, typically Italian style stages, which will generate some exciting finales,” Dimension Data sports director Bingen Fernandez said.

“We’ll also look to use the experience of Igor Anton, who will start his 18th Grand Tour, together with Omar Fraile, who has proven himself in the last week of a Grand Tour, to achieve a big result.”

Rohan Dennis will enjoy effectively a wildcard role within the BMC Racing team that enters the Giro this season with a more concerted approach to the race title. American Tejay van Garderen, after a series of slumps at the Tour de France, will get a fresh start as captain.

Tour de France stage winner Dennis has spoken openly about his ambitions in Grand Tours, setting himself a 2018 deadline to start hitting stride. Veteran teammate Manuel Quinziato recently said Dennis “may surprise”, while speculating van Garderen will return to top form that Italian national time trial champion will also start.

Adam Hansen (Lotto Soudal) will commence his 17th consecutive Grand Tour while veteran Rory Sutherland (Movistar) will work for Colombian climber Nairo Quintana. Quintana is a hot title favourite but has also downplayed the importance of the Giro comparative to his aims at the Tour de France in July.

NOTE: The 5-28 May Giro d'Italia will not be broadcast on SBS due to rights changes.