Irishman Philip Deignan in Team Sky Giro line-up for Belfast start
Irishman Philip Deignan will make his Grand Tour debut for Team Sky when the Giro d'Italia starts in Belfast next month.
Last Updated: 30/04/14 4:04pm
Deignan, who joined Team Sky over the winter, was set back by a shoulder injury early in the season, but he is now ready for his first three-week race with the team and is part of a solid nine-man squad for the year's first Grand Tour.
The team also features Italian riders Dario Cataldo and Salvatore Puccio alongside Pete Kennaugh, Ben Swift, Edvald Boasson Hagen, Bernhard Eisel, Sebastian Henao and Kanstantsin Siutsou.
Australia star Richie Porte, who had been tabbed as the Giro team leader, was forced to withdraw from the race earlier this month after illness cost him precious preparation time - he will turn his attentions to supporting Chris Froome in his Tour de France repeat bid.
This year's race starts with three stages outside Italy, taking in Northern Ireland and Ireland and kicking off with a time trial in Belfast on Friday May 9.
The race will move on to Italy from May 13 with the last of the 21 stages in Trieste on June 1.
On confirming the line-up Team Principal, Sir Dave Brailsford, said: "The Giro d'Italia is a fantastic race and this year provides a great opportunity for the team to go out and really express themselves on the bike.
"We've brought together an exciting squad and we can't wait, not only for the start in Northern Ireland, but to perform in front of our Italian fans."
Deignan said: "As soon as I heard that the Giro d'Italia was starting in Northern Ireland it was a goal of mine to be there, and racing there with Team Sky is a real honour for me.
"We're going with a good balance of youth and experience; we're all looking forward to it. Growing up in County Donegal I never dreamt of riding a Grand Tour here in Ireland and this is my chance. I'm going to relish every minute of it racing in front of my friends and family."
And Cataldo added: "This will be my seventh appearance in the Giro d'Italia, so it is a race that has a place in my heart.
"The race has a great history in Italy and when I was growing up it was always a dream to ride in my home country.
"Without a doubt it was the race that inspired me to start riding a bike as a young boy, so for an Italian bike rider this is as good as it gets.
"We have a strong and exciting team going into the race and we're all looking forward to the challenge ahead. For me, going home to race is always a pleasure and I can't wait to get started."