Giro d’Italia – Caisse d’Epargne Team Preview
Biggest ship in the Spanish Armada, Team director's José-Miguel Echevarri &
Eusebio Unzue are bringing a boat load of talent to the corsa rosa that could
By Barry Ryan
The Giro d’Italia is never going to top the list of priorities for a Spanish
team with a French sponsor, but nonetheless, Caisse d’Epargne will line up in
Palermo on Saturday with a team not lacking in experience in the corsa rosa.
No fewer than three of their number have finished in the top ten of the Giro,
and José Rujano, Vladimir Karpets and the ever-reliable David Arroyo will be
supported by two past Giro stage winners in Joan Horrach and Pablo Lastras.
for the 2008 Giro d'Italia
David Arroyo (Spa)
Joan Horrach (Spa)
Vladimir Karpets (Rus)
Pablo Lastras (Spa)
Luis Pasamontes (Spa)
Francisco Pérez (Spa)
Marlon Perez (Col)
Joaquim Rodriguez (Spa)
José Rujano (Ven)
Rujano’s progress, in particular, will be viewed with considerable interest.
After all, it was in this very race in 2005 that the diminutive Venezuelan, then
riding for Selle Italia, exploded onto the international scene with a
swashbuckling display of climbing reminiscent of a young Marco Pantani. His
efforts brought him an epic stage win at Sestieres, the mountains classification
and third place in Milan, but the man from Santa Cruz de Mora has singularly
failed to live up to expectations since.
At the 2006 Giro, after an unsuccessful attack on the Colle Sancarlo on Stage
13, he absurdly abandoned the race on the descent, a mere 3km from the finish
line at La Thuile, in spite of the fact that he was set for a top ten finish in
the stage. Since then, Rujano has barely registered. His midseason transfer to
Quickstep after that Giro farce was unsuccessful, while 2007 in the Unibet
colours yielded only one victory, the less than awe-inspiring Venezuelan time
Rujano can thus consider himself somewhat fortunate to have landed a place
with Caisse d’Epargne for 2008, and this Giro is surely something of a Last
Chance Saloon, at least at cycling’s top table, even if he is still only 26
years old. His exploits on the unmade roads of the Finestre are now three years
old, and neither the quantity nor the quality of his victories since have
managed to dispel the feeling that 2005 was just a flash in the pan. He arrives
at the Giro with much to prove, and with the mammoth climbs of, among others,
the Marmolada, the Gavia and the Mortirolo on offer, Rujano has ample platform
upon which to reanimate his career.
Failing that, Caisse d’Epargne can rely on 26 year old
Russia’s Vladimir Karpets to be a consistent performer over the
three weeks. (Vladimir's will be 27 on September 20th.) The former winner of the
white jersey at the Tour de France enjoyed a purple patch in the early summer
last year, culminating in overall victory at the Tour of Switzerland, and his
team will no doubt be hoping that he can repeat that kind of form on Italian
roads this year. His 7th place overall in the 2005 Giro at 24 years of age,
remains the high water mark of a major tours career that has perhaps promised a
little more than it has delivered in recent years, then again, some would say he
is approaching his prime and this might be his year to grasp the opportunity.
Karpets will be looking with particular relish at the Pesaro-Urbino time trial
on stage 10 as a chance to make his mark on this year’s race.
David Arroyo, 10th last year, will be
another vital cog in the Caisse d’Epargne machine. The consistent climber counts
just two victories to his name, and is unlikely to be seen accelerating off the
front too often, but expect to see him in and around the lead group on the
Meanwhile, Spanish Joaquim Rodriguez will
be given free rein to chase stage victories at the race. This year he has
already outfought Danilo Di Luca to snare a fine victory on the climb to
Montelupone in Tirreno-Adriatico, and followed that up with a hat-trick of 8th
place finishes in the Ardennes classics, including a very impressive ride in
defense of Alejandro Valverde’s interests at Liège-Bastogne-Liège.
Lastras and Horrach will be looking for
any available opportunity to repeat their Giro stage victories of 2001 and 2006
Another interesting element of the line-up is the inclusion of Colombian
Marlon Perez, a Junior World Champion in the
points race all the way back in 1994 whose professional career has been spent
mainly on South American roads, although he does boast a 40th place finish from
the 2004 Giro.
Climbers Francisco Pérez and
Luis Pasamontes complete a roster that may
well be more competitive than one may have anticipated at this Giro, regardless
of the form of José Rujano.
Discuss this race and the sport with other cycling fans from around the world
on the Daily Peloton.com Forums
and Chat Room. Sponsor
the daily peloton & advertise your product or service to cyclists and cycling