Rigoberto Uran will lead the Cannondale Pro Cycling Team into the Giro d’Italia, which begins on Friday in the Netherlands. The race features six very hard days in the mountains and also demands three separate efforts against the clock, meaning that a balanced rider such as Uran has a very good chance at winning the overall.

“We’ve made no bones about the Giro being our target for the season. It’s a major objective for us, and the guys have trained accordingly. They’ve done the laps of the volcano; they’ve raced in rough conditions leading into this,” Slipstream Sports CEO Jonathan Vaughters said. “It’s the Giro, so you’re never completely prepared, but the team is as ready as possible. Rigo’s going good, and he’s got a really good group around him. He’s got a really good shot to win.”

Uran has finished second on two occasions at the Giro, in 2013 and 2014. And the 29-year-old Colombian finished seventh in 2012.

“The whole team is totally focused and ready for work,” said Uran. “This season, I have worked more in Europe and have made several highly focused efforts to prepare.”

Asked if he could win, all Uran said was:

“We are going to try and confirm that in 21 days.”

“Rigo’s our leader going into the Giro because we like his toughness over three weeks. He’s a resilient, smart racer. Consistency is key to winning a grand tour, and that’s what I see in Rigo,” Vaughters said. “He may lack the raw horsepower of Nibali, but he’s a deeply intelligent rider. And as a person, he’s the guy the rest of the team wants to support. They love the guy.”

The squad that Cannondale Pro Cycling brings is completely dedicated to the GC pursuit. Alberto Bettiol, Nate Brown, Andre Cardoso, Simon Clarke, Joe Dombrowski, Davide Formolo, Moreno Moser, and Ramunas Navardauskas are ready to support the team’s ambitions at the Giro. Clarke will serve as road captain — an invaluable element in a race as hectic and difficult as the Giro.

“He’s our road captain because of his leadership and intelligence. He’s the best out there. And, unlike many of the other road captains, he’s never dropped early in the hills. He’s there to lead until the bitter end,” Vaughters said.

Dombrowski makes his first Giro start and, along with Formolo and Cardoso, is a vital cog in the machinery needed to win the Giro.

“I’m looking forward to coming into the race with a clear leader and clear objective, with the experience of having ridden my first grand tour last year,” Dombrowski said. “I’m hoping to be a good support rider for Rigo, particularly in the mountain stages later in the race. Additionally, I’m looking forward to the stage over Col de la Bonette. I’ve spent a lot of time training at altitude in that area because it is close to where I am based in Nice. The riding is stunning, and I have friends and family that are going to be out on the road watching.

Formolo, for his part, was just counting the days this week. “It’s Giro time,” he said. “I’m good. It’s unlucky I crashed in Romandie, but I’ll fix everything in the next couple days. I’m ready to fight.”

This Giro has been a long time coming for the Cannondale Pro Cycling Team and something the group has put complete focus on.

“We are very happy with how the team is functioning. The riders from this group have all come into form at the right time,” head sport director Charly Wegelius said. “We can look towards the Giro with confidence.”

The Giro begins on Friday, May 6 with a short, opening time trial in Apeldoorn, the Netherlands. It concludes 20 stages later in Torino, Italy on Sunday, May 29.

Slipstream Sports CEO Jonathan Vaughters on each selection to the roster:

Alberto Bettiol, all-rounder

“We’re going to rely on Alberto to shepherd our leaders on the faster stages. Those seconds before the finish never show up in articles, but they’re some of the most crucial pieces of a stage race. When a team rides for GC as we are, it comes down to seconds. Those seconds are accounted for in so many ways at the Giro. Alberto will be asked to keep Rigoberto protected in those moments. At 22, he’s one of the youngest riders in the race.”

Nate Brown, all-rounder

“Nate was a last-minute addition to our Giro roster after the Mike Woods injury at LBL, but we tapped him last minute because we knew he was in shape and able to perform under rough conditions. He’s effective in the last week. He’s durable. He’s not always sharp the first week, but has the makings of a grand tour domestique, as he’s a diesel, and his engine only warms up by week three. Also, Nate’s selfless; he loves being a good helper, and he relishes in the hard work.”

Andre Cardoso, climber

“Cardoso’s talents as a climber are well known, and that’s exactly what we’re asking of him in Italy; he’ll be one of Rigo’s last men standing in the mountains. We need his grand tour savvy, too: He finished in the top 25 in both the Giro and Vuelta last season. He’s great in the third week no matter what. He crashes, he keeps going. He gets sick, he keeps going.”

Simon Clarke, all-rounder, road captain

“Simon came to us this season with important experience in big races and his all-around ability make him a threat in the stages at the Giro I look at as the in-betweens. Not a sprint, not a summit, just hard bike racing. He’s also our road captain because of his leadership and intelligence. He’s the best road captain out there. And, unlike many of the other road captains, he’s never dropped early in the hills. He’s there to lead until the bitter end.”

Joe Dombrowski, climber

“Joe’s done the hard miles in training with the guys on Tenerife and he’s raced the Vuelta before. He won the “Baby Giro” in 2012, and the Tour of Utah last year. He’s coming along really nicely. Joe will likely suffer early on and on the explosive climbs, but when it gets really tough he’ll be there in a big way. He may be the key guy in Rigo’s run for the win.”

Davide Formolo, climber

“He’s earned the respect of his older teammates and the confidence of his directors. He rode the Giro last year, but I’m expecting a much different Davide this time around. He’s got a shot at the young rider jersey, sure, but that’s a by-product of riding well. He’ll be a super-domestique for Rigo, but I’d look for him to take some chances, too. The Giro’s an exciting race for a young Italian rider like Davide. He’ll ride accordingly.”

Moreno Moser, all-rounder, time trialist 

“We selected Moreno for his all-around strength and knowledge of the race. He’s a good time trialist and will target those efforts as well as work to keep the race smooth for Rigoberto in the middle-mountain stages. He can compete on varied terrain for wins, as well. People forget he won Strade Bianche. He’s competitive and it’s a race on home soil — Moreno will be a key piece in the race for us.”

Ramunas Navardauskas, all-rounder: 

“Of all the guys in the peloton, I think Ramunas is one of the most versatile. He finished on the podium at Worlds last season, and that’s indicative of the type of rider he is: strong over varied terrain, and tough. He’s won a stage at both the Giro and Tour, too. He’s the best helper possible on the flat days, unselfish and an absolute horse in the crosswinds.”

Rigoberto Uran, climber and time trialist. Leader. 

“Rigo’s our leader going into the Giro because we like his toughness over three weeks. He’s a resilient, smart racer. Consistency is key to winning a grand tour, and that’s what I see in Rigo right now. He’s finished second on GC twice at the Giro, and has two stage wins. Hey may lack the raw horsepower of Nibali, but he’s a deeply intelligent rider. And as a person, he’s the guy the rest of the team wants to support. They love the guy.”

Cannondale Pro Cycling for the 2016 Giro d’Italia 

Alberto Bettiol
Nate Brown
Andre Cardoso
Simon Clarke
Joe Dombrowski
Davide Formolo
Moreno Moser
Ramunas Navardauskas
Rigoberto Uran