Brandon McNulty rides Giro d'Italia alongside João Almeida and Jay Vine
UAE Team Emirates have confirmed their line-up for the Giro d'Italia, with US rider Brandon McNulty included alongside team leader Joao Almeida and the Australian talent Jay Vine.
Tadej Pogačar's Tour de France bid is the most important fixture of the season for UAE Team Emirates but they are sending a strong team with multiple options to Italy.
Almeida is the proven general classification campaigner but Vine is very much on the up, and McNulty is a possible third GC card, especially considering the 73km of time trialling on the 2023 route.
Almeida finished fourth overall at the Giro in 2020, sixth in 2021, and was forced to abandon through COVID-19 last year while sitting in fourth place. He is yet to make his Tour de France debut but returns for his fourth crack at the Italian Grand Tour on the back of podium finishes at the Volta a Catalunya and Tirreno-Adriatico.
"After the disappointing end to this race last year I’m definitely hungry to come back and fight for a big result," said Almeida.
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"The preparation for the Giro has gone really well. I think I’ve been really consistent this year and we’ve just done a big block of great training at altitude in Sierra Nevada, Spain so as a group we are in a great place both physically and mentally."
Almeida is flanked by Vine, who made his big breakthrough at last year's Vuelta a España, where he won two mountain stages. Since then he claimed the Australian time trial title and won the Tour Down Under, raising hopes over his potential as a Grand Tour contender.
The Australian, who turned professional through the Zwift Academy programme, had his spring disrupted by a knee injury but has outlined his ambitions to test himself as a GC rider.
In UAE's team announcement, Vine is described as "a strong lieutenant for Almeida" but someone who "may see his own chances open up depending how the race develops".
McNulty, meanwhile, has ridden the past two editions of the Tour de France as part of Pogačar's support network but returns to the Giro, where he made an eye-catching Grand Tour debut in 2020. It remains to be seen whether he is still part of the Tour plans and could ride a Grand Tour double in 2023.
UAE Team Emirates have named a versatile squad that also includes a sprinter in Pascal Ackermann, with around seven potential opportunities for the fast finishers. Ryan Gibbons is someone who can compete in more selective sprints and breakaways, while Diego Ulissi is even more of a puncheur with eight Giro stage wins already on his palmarès.
Climbing strength comes from Davide Formolo, another former stage winner who has also finished in the top 10 overall, while the squad is rounded out by the Italian all-rounder Alessandro Covi.
The Giro d'Italia gets underway with a time trial in the Abruzzo region on May 6.
UAE Team Emirates for the 2023 Giro d'Italia