One year after making its debut in the race, the Italian – D’Angelo Antenucci Team Nippo squad will return to An Post Rás with an eye on overall success and stage victories in UCI 2.2 contest.
The powerful Continental-level team will again be managed by Alberto Elli, who held the yellow jersey for four days in the 2000 Tour de France. He will be one of the most experienced team directors in the race and is regarded as a very astute race tactician.
Elli states that the team’s general classification hope is likely to be Henry Frusto, with Alexander Zhdanov also a contender. “Henry is a climber and has already achieved good results in South Africa and in Taiwan,” he said, referring to his eighth on a stage and 17th overall in the Tour de Taiwan.
Zhdanov is a Russian neo pro and is, according to Elli, someone with excellent potential. “He is a strong time trial rider and very good in stage races, such as the An Post Rás. He will try to win a stage plus fight for the overall.”
The team sprinter Bernardo Riccio has been riding strongly and looks certain to be in thick of the fight for stages along with the points classification. The Italian notched up two stage victories in the Tour of South Africa this year, and was also fourth on a stage of the Tour de San Luis.
The likely line-up is completed by the experienced pro Giuseppe Muraglia and the new professional Kouhei Uchima. The team will complete their preparation for the race with a training camp in the South of Italy.
Race director Dermot Dignam believes that the Italian squad will play a big part in the race. “Last year the team took several top ten placings in sprints and this time around it has a very impressive line-up. The experience will stand to the riders and we expect them to be very prominent in the results.”
The Italian team is the latest in a strong lineup of international squads. Ukraine – ISD Lampre, the Australian Drapac Professional team, the New Zealand national selection, the US-based Wonderful Pistachios squad, the Greek/Spanish KTM Murcia lineup, the German Thuringer Energie team and the French AVC Aix en Provence squad have been confirmed in recent weeks.