Giro d'Italia Favorites Reveal Their Ambitions
A selection of the star riders who will take part in the 2012 Giro d'Italia revealed their hopes and ambitions for the 95th edition of the race, which starts in Herning, Denmark tomorrow afternoon.
2011 Giro d'Italia winner Michele Scarponi (Team Lampre-LSD), Ivan Basso (Team Liquigas-Cannondale), John Gadret (Team Europcar), Roman Kreuziger (Astana), Team RadioShack-Nissan's Frank Schleck, Joaquin Rodriguez (Katusha), and Team BMC Racing's Thor Hushovd all took part in an official Giro d'Italia 2012 pre-race press conference in Herning. Roadcycling.com has compiled quotes and opinions from the riders about their expectations for this year's Giro.
According to Michele Scarponi "There are a lot of favourites this year, who all have an equal chance of victory or to climb on the podium. This will affect the first part of the race, which will be more difficult to control."
Scarponi is confident that his form is of a satisfactory level and he expects it to improve further as the Giro moves forward. He claims there are no conflicts within the team between Damiano Cunego and himself. "My form is good and will improve. Damiano Cunego is not a rival within the Lampre-ISD team. We'll have a tactical advantage on the other riders."
Ivan Basso emphasized that the injury he suffered earlier this season has had a major effect on his preparation for the Giro, which we also witnessed in the Tour de Romandie where he delivered a disappointing performance.
"Two crashes cost me two weeks of important racing early in the season but I've done a lot more work in the last 40 days. I'm 34 and I've got to trust my experience. We'll see stage by stage but I'm confident I can fight for success with the best riders in the race. My team is ready and we all trust each other. That's how it has to be to ensure we are a strong team right from the start. Then we'll see what happens in the race."
Thor Hushovd, too, has been affected by illness and injury this season, but he is looking very much forward to his return to racing and not least the Giro d'Italia start in Denmark. "My season hasn't gone as I hoped so far. I was sick at Milan-San Remo, crashed in Paris-Roubaix and lost the race. I'm motivated to do well in the Giro d'Italia and want get a first win wearing my Team BMC jersey. I'm especially looking forward to the opening stages in Denmark, it's like racing at home for me."
Many analysts consider Joaquin Rodriguez a favorite for the overall victory in this year's Giro d'Italia. Rodriguez himself, however, is more reluctant when it comes to promising to deliver great results and spends time playing down his chances. "In Spain they've been saying I'm the biggest favourite to win the Giro for several years now. I don't think there's one big favourite in the race. There are a lot of riders who can win the Giro, including some who could cause a surprise result."
Rodriguez expects the final week of the Giro to deliver the decisive race action, but is concerned about the climate conditions which he will be exposed to in the first three stages of racing in Denmark. "The last week will be tough and will decide the race. The problem here in Denmark will be the wind. I don't like it, but I'm not worried about it."
Another Giro favorite is Astana's Roman Kreuziger, who hopes he can improve his performance further in this year's race. "I think I'm going well. I've stepped up every year since 2008. I haven't won a grand tour but I'm confident that I'm progressing. My season is going well. I had a good Tirreno-Adriatico, Giro del Trentino and Tour de Romandie. We'll see if it is my year."
Team RadioShack-Nissan's Frank Schleck clearly doesn't want his fans to get their hopes up and reminds them of the fact that he was added to his team's Giro roster at a late hour, replacing an injured Jacob Fuglsang.
"I was at the playground with my daughter when I got the call and was asked to ride the Giro d'Italia. It was a shock but then I looked at the race route and realised it's a good opportunity for me. I'm happy to be here. I had some time off the bike after the classics and in the first week it'll be important to find my form but least I'm fresh."
John Gadret delivered an eye-opening performance in last year's Giro d'Italia and he is hoping he can deliver a similar performance or maybe even improve his results for Team Europcar.
"I wasn't a favorite last year but I proved what I could do. I‘ll try and do the same thing, if not even better. The last week of the route is very difficult, all the stages are tough. But it's the riders who make the race. Though I think the Stelvio will decide this year's winner."
Stay tuned to us here at Roadcycling.com for our 2012 Giro d'Italia coverage, which will include video highlights from all Giro stages in our video section (US only). While you wait for the Giro to start, be sure to subscribe to our Twitter feed @RoadCyclingCom , like our Facebook page, and start your own training diary developed by TrainingPeaks/Roadcycling.com and used by many of the pro riders who will compete in this year's Giro d'Italia.