Canadian Ryder Hesjedal and Ireland's Dan Martin will lead Team Garmin-Sharp at the 2014 Giro d'Italia.

Hesjedal won the 2012 Giro, the first Canadian to win one of cycling's Grand Tour events.

"Having previously won this race I couldn't be more excited to be back," said Hesjedal. "Especially with the team we have. To take on the GC challenge along with a rider like Dan is something I have been looking forward to since December when the plan was made by the team and we have a great group of guys to help with that goal. "

The 33-year-old from Victoria made headlines of a different sort last October when he responded to doping allegations by saying he had chosen the wrong path.

He escaped sanction because the alleged 2003 transgression was outside the World Anti-Doping Code's eight-year statute of limitations.

Garmin-Sharp backed Hesjedal because he agreed to work with U.S. doping authorities.

"To perform at a race as demanding as the Giro takes a lot of hard work," said Hesjedal. "Not only for the riders but for everyone supporting us behind the scenes. Its not only the rider that wins the race, but everyone involved. Its a total team effort and one that I feel is the most beautiful in sport. "

The 97th edition of the Giro starts Friday in Belfast with a field of 198. The race ends June 1 in the northeastern port city of Trieste.