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Bouhanni chases his first grand tour stage win in the sprints while Geniez is likely to keep an eye on the overall standings

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ALEXANDRE GENIEZ

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ARNAUD COURTEILLE

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FRANCIS MOUREY

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GEOFFREY SOUPE

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GIRO D'ITALIA

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GROUPAMA-FDJ

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JOHAN LE BON

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LAURENT PICHON

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NACER BOUHANNI

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SEBASTIEN CHAVANEL

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21.04.2014 @ 13:47 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

FDJ is the first team to announce their selection for the Giro d'Italia and the French team will head to Italy with a clear focus on the sprints. Nacer Bouhanni will lead the team and is surrounded by his usual lead-out men while Alexandre Geniez will be expected to shine in the mountains.

 

FDJ have finalized their selection for the Giro d'Italia earlier than any other team and will make the journey to Italy with a roster that is very similar to last year's. The team will have a dual focus in the first grand tour of the season but the selection indicates that most focus will be on the sprint stages.

 

Nacer Bouhanni returns to Italy as leader of the team after getting his first taste of the race 12 months ago. He got close to the win with three top 5 finishes, most notably on stage 12 where he finished 2nd behind Mark Cavendish. He left the race one day later to prepare for his debut Tour de France, his third grand tour in a row.

 

This year Bouhanni hopes to continue his steady progression through the sprinting ranks by taking his first grand tour stage win. With 5 wins - including a stage in Paris-Nice - already under his belt, he has had a successful start to the year and he most recently won the big sprint race, GP Denain, on home soil.

 

However, Bouhanni has also had to deal with some controversy as he ventured his frustration over not getting selected to Milan-Sanremo. In the Italian classic, the team chose to focus on their second young sprint star Arnaud Demare and Bouhanni publicly played with the thought of finding another team.

 

The pair may clash again later in the season as both have set their sights on the Tour de France. Last year Demare volunatrily postponed his debut in his big home race but this year he wants to make his first appearance. Bouhanni wants to return after having been forced to abandon last year's race.

 

French media have reported that Demare is guaranteed a spot on the roster while Bouhanni may be left out. The best way for the former French champion to earn selection would be by winning a stage in the Giro.

 

He will have his entire lead-out train at his disposal, led by final lead-out man and new signing Sebastien Chavanel. Geoffrey Soupe will be the third link in the train while Laurent Pichon and Murilo Fischer will be the first riders to launch the team in the finales.

 

For the GC, the team is likely to focus on Alexandre Geniez. The young Frenchman had a difficult first half in his debut season at FDJ but found his legs for the Tour de France and the Vuelta a Espana. He got close to a stage win in his home grand tour and won the queen stage to Peyragudes in the Spanish race.

 

This year he had a great start to the season by taking fourth at the Volta ao Algarve, leading to statements from his sports director that he could become one of the greats if he just believed a bit more in himself. He will be supported by Francis Mourey who rode to a solid 20th in the race 12 months ago.

 

The team will be completed by TT specialist Johan Le Bon who be an important rider in the opening team time trial and youngster Arnaud Courteille who makes his debut appearance in the Italian race.

 

The race starts on May 9 with a TTT in Belfast.

 

FDJ for the Giro d'Italia:

Nacer Bouhanni, Sebastien Chavanel, Geoffrey Soupe, Laurent Pichon, Murilo Fischer, Alexandre Geniez, Francis Mourey, Johan Le Bon and Arnaud Courteille

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