Paris - Bahrain-Merida have given their captain Vincenzo Nibali every chance of defending his Giro d'Italia title by naming a squad for the centenary edition starting next Friday entirely crafted around the Sicilian climber.
The team was announced on Saturday and features two strong climbing mates for Nibali in compatriot Franco Pellizotti and Spain's Javier Moreno.
Race organisers for the climber-friendly three-week tour - with six mountaintop finishes - have even programmed stage five to finish at Nibali's hometown of Messina.
The 32-year-old is one of six Italians in the Bahrain team and is the nation's top cyclist, having clinched the Giro in 2013 and 2016, the Tour of Spain in 2010 and the Tour de France in 2014.
Bahrain-Merida Giro line-up:
Bahrain: Vincenzo Nibali (ITA), Valerio Agnoli (ITA), Manuele Boaro (ITA), Enrico Gasparotto (ITA), Javier Moreno (ESP), Franco Pellizotti (ITA), Luca Pibernik (SLO), Kanstantsin Siutsou (BLR), Giovanni Visconti (ITA)