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Giro d'Italia - Saunier Duval/Prodir Team Preview
By Staff
Date: 5/10/2007
Giro d'Italia - Saunier Duval/Prodir Team Preview

Giro d'Italia - Saunier Duval/Prodir Team Preview
Red-Birds ready to pilot Gibo to his 3rd Giro win

Bart Hazen

The Saunier Duval-Prodir team is ready for the upcoming Giro D’Italia. The red-bird team of Pietro and Matteo Algeri is ready to pilot Gilberto Simoni to his 3rd Giro D’Italia win, after he won this event already in 2001 and 2003. Saunier Duval-Prodir will start with a very strong team in the Corsa Rosa.

If we look to the team Gilberto Simoni is the absolute leader of the team. As we said he won the Giro in 2001 and 2003, and  rode onto the podium in 5 times: 1999 (3rd), 2000 (3rd), 2004 (3rd), 2005 (2nd) and 2006 (3rd). For Gilberto Simoni it will be his last race before he will switch to the Mountainbike in order to qualify and prepare himself for the Olympic Games in Beijing in this discipline.

Gibo at Liege-Bastogne-Liege.

This year Gibo rode quite well in the Tour de Georgia and his final preparation for the Giro went through the Ardennes Classics where he worked for young Riccardo Ricco in the final. His form is good and is really looking forward too ride a strong Giro.

The next one to introduce is young talented and rising start Riccardo Ricco. Ricco is now in his 2nd year as a professional and won already 5 races, the 5th stage in Coppi & Bartali and the Japan Cup in 2006 and two stages in the Tirreno Adriatico and the 5th stage in the Coppi & Bartali in 2007.

Riccardo Ricco attacks for Stage 5 victory in the Coppi Bartali in March.
Photo c Fotoreporter Sirotti

Ricco impressed in Tirreno Adriatico and Milan-SanRemo. In the Tirreno he defeated the others on the mountain top finishes and in Milan-SanRemo he attacked with Phillipe Gilbert on the Poggio but they where caught in the final kilometers. Ricco's final preparation for the Giro included rides in the Amstel Gold Race and the Ardennes Classics where he finished 9th in Amstel, and 5th in the Fleche Wallonne. He has a good sprint and is very dangerous on uphill finishes like the ones in Tirreno-Adriatico. Watch out for Ricco, he is going to surprise in this year’s race. We are quite sure about that.

Leonardo Piepoli is the lieutenant of Gilberto Simoni in the mountains. But we could see in the Giro 2006 that he was often stronger than his leader which resulted in two stages win for the Italian. In the overall classification he was 11th. Later that year he was also 13th in the Vuelta D’Espana. As you can see Leo is a good rider for the mountains but could do even better if he had a better time-trial. Anyway his job for this Giro is to support Simoni and maybe he can grab a stage win or two for himself as well.

Iban Mayo is here to find good form again. So far he hasn't any results since he joined Saunier Duval. If Mayo has good form he can be giant in the mountains; but the opposite could be true as well, Iban has had trouble finding his form. So far 2003 was his best season with the win in the Vuelta a Pais Vasco, 3 stages in the Pais Vasco, 2 stages in the Dauphine and one in the Tour de France. His 2004 season was also excellent but since then its been a rollercoaster. In Mid 2006 he had a revival with a stage win in Burgos, the Dauphine Libere, the Subida a Urkiola and the final win in the Vuelta a Burgos. The team expects that Iban can find his good form again and that he can support Simoni in the mountains. And why not go for a stage win himself?

Manuele Mori. photo c. Bart Hazen

Manuele Mori is another Italian in the team. Manuele has a good sprint, can climb well and is a good rider to support the team. Manuele Mori is a younger brother of Lampre rider Massimiliano Mori, who won’t start for that team in this event. This year Manuele had some bad luck in the beginning where he had an injury but he rode quite well in the Amstel and the Ardennes races. Last year he rode twice top 10 in a Giro stage and in one stage won by Joan Horrach; he crashed together with Emanuele Sella in the descent. But he still was able to finish that day in 4th. Later that year he finished 2nd in the queens stage of the Benelux Tour and was 3rd in the GP Plouay.

The other riders of the team to compete in the Corsa Rosa are Swiss rider Rubens Bertogliati, Latvian rider Raivis Belohvosciks, Spaniard David Canada and last but not least another Spaniard Angel “Litu” Gomez Gomez. Not to confuse him with José Angel Gomez Marchante because they are not related to each other. Anyway Bertogliati and Belohvosciks are in the team for the flatter stages and the team-time-trial because they can do well against the clock.

David Canada won the Volta a Catalunya in 2006 and was 3rd in the Tour de Georgia 2007. As you can see he can do well in the more hilly stages and mountain stages and can be important in the openings TTT as well on Saturday. Angel Gomez is a real helper for the team for the flat stages and the early parts of the mountain stages.

Leonardo Piepoli.     photo c. Bart Hazen

All in All Saunier Duval-Prodir will sent a homogeneous team to the Giro D’Italia in order to pilot Gilberto Simoni to his third Overall win. We expect some stage wins for Ricco and Piepoli as well and we hope that Iban Mayo can show his capabilities again after a long time. And maybe Manuele Mori can take his first pro win in the Tour of his own country? It’s a very special and beautiful team. I’m sure the Spanish/Swiss/Italian red-birds will sing a few times in the next three weeks.

The full team of Saunier Duval-Prodir is:
Gilberto Simoni (Ita)
Rubens Bertogliati (Swi)
Raivis Belohvosciks (Lat)
David Canada Gracia (Spa)
Angel “Litu” Gomez Gomez (Spa)
Manuele Mori (Ita)
Iban Mayo Diez (Spa)
Leonardo Piepoli (Ita)
Riccardo Ricco (Ita)

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