Tour of the Alps awaits Nibali for another major show

GS Alto Garda announced the teams’ list for the 2019 edition, with the anticipated duel between the Italian’s Bahrain-Merida and Egan Bernal’s Team Sky

After proclaiming Geraint Thomas in 2017, launching him towards the Tour de France glory a year later, and after uplifting Thibaut Pinot’s career in a 2018 season that the Frenchman would end lifting Il Lombardia’s trophy, the 2019 Tour of the Alps wishes to confirm itself as an ideal springnboard for the top contenders for Giro d’Italia’s Maglia Rosa.

In that sense, the 2.HC Euroregional stage race, to be run over five stages (April 22-26) from Kufstein to Bozen/Bolzano,  has a remarkable track record, as lastly confirmed by Chris Froome, who in 2018 chose the Tour of the Alps (finished in 4th place) to refine his condition on the way to a memorable Giro d’Italia display, with the extraordinary feat performed on the Colle delle Finestre and the 80-km solo move that would earn him the pink jersey in Rome.

This time it could be Vincenzo Nibali’s turn. The Italian leader of Bahrain Merida is set to line up among the Tour of the Alps stars, with the ambition of repeating Froome’s path toward his main goal for the 2019 season: winning his third Giro d’Italia. In the year of the Shark’s first Maglia Rosa, 2013, Nibali was coming off a resounding success at the Giro del Trentino, the long-time race whose baton has been picked up by the Tour of the Alps. Again in 2016, Vincenzo had chosen Giro del Trentino for the last tune up before his second Giro d’Italia crown. On top of it, it was Trentino again that saw Nibali wear the Italian National Champion’s jersey at Trofeo Melinda, just weeks before his winning campaign at the Tour de France.

The Tour of the Alps has announced the list of the teams for the 2019 edition on Tuesday January 29th in a press conference at the Free University of Bozen, the city where the Euroregional race will live its grand finale on April 26th. Taking part in the event, along with GS Alto Garda President Giacomo Santini, were the Pro-Rector of the Free University of Bozen, Johann Gamper, the President of Bolzano’s FCI Committee Nino Lazzarotto, Helmuth Zanotti, Product Management at IDM Südtirol, Luca Marrollo of Tirol Werbung, the representatives of the Südtirol stage cities – Cornelia Reiterer of Schenna’s Tourism Board, the Mayor of Salurn Roland Lazzeri, the Director of Kaltern’s Tourism Board Sarah Filippi, the President of Bozen’s Tourism Board Paolo Pavan – and the second lieutenant of Bolzano’s City Police Roberto Tinaglia.

Topping the list, along with Vincenzo Nibali’s Bahrain Merida, is Team Sky, the British super team that carries an impressive track record in this race. Barring program changes, this time the leading grades should go to Egan Bernal, the Colombian prospect Team Sky is looking to back for a Giro d’Italia pursuit, after winning the Tour of California in 2018.

After netting three stage wins in 2018, Team Astana is set to be a prominent presence yet again: designated leader for the Giro d’Italia, Miguel Angel Lopez has elected the Tour of the Alps as ideal dress rehearsal. Anyway, with his fiancè expecting a baby and a due date close to Kufstein’s start, the Colombian might have to review his plans. For his part, Spaniard Pello Bilbao, winner of last year’s stage 1 in Folgaria, is certain not to miss the appointment with another TotA start Carrying ambitions will be also two more World Teams, German Bora-Hansgrohe – led by Pole Rafal Majka – and French AG2R-La Mondiale.

No less than nine Professional Continental outfits will be looking to bring the battle, starting with freshly-appointed Giro d’Italia wild cards Androni-Sidermec, Bardiani-CSF and Nippo-Fantini-Faizanè, joined by fellow Italian team Neri-Selle Italia-KTM. Spain will be represented by two teams, the Euskadi-Murias of Oscar Rodriguez (best climber at 2018 TotA and stage winner at the Vuelta a Espana) and two-time Giro d’Italia stage winner Benat Intxausti, and Caja Rural-Seguros RGA. French Delko-Marseille-Provence is also part of the list, counting on Italians Mauro Finetto, Iuri Filosi and Alessandro Fedeli, as are Russian Gazprom-Rusvelo, and the Colombian climbers of Manzana-Postobon.

Two Austrian continental teams, Tirol Cycling Team and Vorarlberg-Santic, will also be at the start, as well as the Italian National Team directed by Davide Cassani.

Three more spots are to be filled, and the organizers will disclose the final names over the next few days, to complete the list of 20. In line for the final nods are another World Tour team, still having to provide a final confirmation, as well as young Italian Continental teams longing for a greater challenge at the highest technical and spectacular level that the Tour of the Alps is known to guarantee.

Quotes:

Helmuth Zanotti (Product Management IDM Südtirol)

The Tour of the Alps is much more than a top-level cycling race for us. The figures show that this project has reached a high degree of relevancy and turnover, thanks to its communication and the distribution of TV images all over the World.

Nino Lazzarotto (President of Bozen’s FCI Committee)

The Tour of the Alps is a special race. As a cycling lover, I can tell that no race in the calendar reaches provides for such a spectacular display as this race does year after year, thanks to its short and intense stages and the quality of its star riders. This race is always wide open from a tactical point of view, and the big stars come here to give 100% from the first to the last kilometer.

Giacomo Santini (GS Alto Garda President)

The Tour of the Alps’s project is the best reflection of the spirit that animates the Euregio. Hailing from Trentino, our race showed the determination to cross the borders and bring a successful alliance to life. The challenge of dealing with a cross-border race, with everything involved, is eloquently rewarded by the great feedbacks the Tour of the Alps keeps collecting year after year.

The Teams for the 2019 edition

Here are the 17 teams already confirmed for the 2019 edition.

WORLD TOUR


  1. Ag2R LA MONDIALE (FRA)

  2. ASTANA PRO TEAM (KAZ)

  3. BAHRAIN MERIDA (BRN)

  4. BORA HANSGROHE (GER)

  5. TEAM SKY (GBR)


PROFESSIONAL CONTINENTAL


  1. ANDRONI-SIDERMEC (ITA)

  2. BARDIANI-CSF (ITA)

  3. CAJA RURAL SEGUROS (ESP)

  4. DELKO MARSEILLE PROVENCE (FRA)

  5. EUSKADI-MURIAS (ESP)

  6. NIPPO FANTINI FAIZANE’ (ITA)

  7. GAZPROM RUSVELO (RUS)

  8. MANZANA POSTOBON (COL)

  9. NERI-SELLE ITALIA-KTM (ITA)


CONTINENTAL


  1. TIROL CYCLING TEAM (AUT)

  2. TEAM VORARLBERG-SANTIC (AUT)


SQUADRE NAZIONALI


  1. ITALY NATIONAL TEAM (ITA)