Cav vs Greipel grudge match may have to wait till Tour de France as German misses race

Organisers of the Giro d’Italia, which gets under way in Turin a fortnight tomorrow, have published the provisional start list for this year’s race, which follows a route commemorating the 150th anniversary of Italian unification. Unusually, none of the four men who won the jerseys in last year’s race will be there to defend them.

Like last year’s overall champion Ivan Basso, points classification winner Cadel Evans, currently recovering from a knee injury, is focusing his efforts on the Tour de France.

Both competed in the Giro and the Tour last year, but Basso failed to make an impact in July’s race, while Evans, who swapped his rainbow jersey for the maillot jaune, abandoned the race following Stage 9 which he finished in tears after riding through the pain of a fractured elbow sustained the previous day.

Winner of the young rider’s classification, Richie Porte of Saxo Bank-Sungard, does not feature in his team’s provisional squad which is led by 2008 Giro winner Alberto Contador, while his compatriot Matthew Lloyd, who won the mountains jersey last year, is without a team after being sacked by Omega-Pharma Lotto earlier this month.

The Belgian team said that letting Lloyd go was due to “behavioural problems” which it declined to elaborate on, but it was keen to stress that the issue was not related to doping. Lloyd is widely expected to move to the new Australian outfit, GreenEdge, when the transfer window opens in August.

Basso’s Liquigas-Cannondale team mate Vincenzo Nibali, third last year and winner of the Vuelta, will lead the team and is among the favourites to top the podium in Milan on 29 May. Last year’s runner-up, David Arroyo of Movistar, also returns, and others who are likely to contend for the overall title include Michele Scarponi of Lampre-ISD and Astana’s Roman Kreuziger.

Also bound to be in contention are 2009 winner Dennis Menchov and his Geox-TMC team mate Carlos Sastre; with the team not invited to the Tour de France, the Giro and possibly the Vuelta represent their only chance to make an impact on a Grand Tour this year.

Bunch sprints are likely to be few and far between this year, and in any event the way the points classification is calculated makes it less favourable to sprinters than in the Tour de France or the Vuelta.

Nevertheless, Mark Cavendish of HTC-Highroad and Garmin-Cervelo’s Tyler Farrar both race, although there’s no Andre Greipel, meaning that his long-awaited showdown with his Manx former team mate looks increasingly likely to have to wait until France in July.

Another British rider, Garmin-Cervelo's David Millar, winner of multiple stages in the Tour de France and the Vuelta, will get an opportunity to join the select group of riders to have won individual stages in all three Grand Tours. The Scot does have one Giro stage win in his palmares  already, but that was a team time trial in 2008.

Team Sky’s line-up is headed by Thomas Lovkvist, with the provisional squad also featuring Michael Barry, Kjell Carlstrom, Russ Downing – making his Grand Tour debut – Davide Appollonio, Lars-Petter Nordhaug, Serge Pauwels and Morris Possoni.

The latter, as reported earlier today on road.cc, is one of a number of riders competing in the race, others including Scarponi and the Italian national champion Giovanni Visconti, who have recently been subject to police raids as a result of alleged links to the sports physician Dr Michele Scarponi.

The full provisional start list for the 2011 Giro d’Italia can be found here. Don’t forget that the race forms part of our season-long Fantasy Cycling competition brought to you in association with Evans Cycles, and will also feature as a standalone contest, with a Fuji Altamira 3.0 bike worth £1,729 on offer to the winner.

Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.