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91st Giro d'Italia - Saunier Duval/Scott Team Preview
By Bart Hazen
Date: 5/6/2008
91st Giro d'Italia - Saunier Duval/Scott Team Preview

Giro d'Italia - Saunier Duval/Scott Team Preview
A breakdown of the strengths and talents of  Red Bird's Giro squad in support of Riccardo Ricco and veteran Leonardo Piepoli.

Saunier Duval will start a very strong and very mixed team in the 2008 Giro D’Italia. The race is a primary goal for the team as they have an Italian team leader in young Riccardo Ricco. Ricco finished 6th overall in 2007 and won the 15th stage to Tre Cime di Lavaredo.

Algeri commented about Ricco “Riccardo was training in the steep Dolomites last week and he recovered from the bronchial problems that affected him in the classics. We hope he'll be blessed with fine weather so that he can get even better. His goals? Stepping up to the podium.”

Thus far in 2008 Ricco hasn’t won a race. Last year at this time he won two stages in the Tirreno-Adriatico and the Coppi & Bartali; and rode an impressive Giro. It should be mentioned Ricco is similar to Damiano Cunego in his overall talent and capable of a strong finish or sprint if that's what it takes to win a race.

Next to Ricco the team will count on climber Leonardo Piepoli. Piepoli was 14th overall in 2007 and won the 10th stage to Nostra Signora Guardia and took home the Maglia Verde for the top climber. Being one of the more experienced riders on the team if you said he was "over the hill" you would be wrong unless you meant it in the context as he is sure to be in the top finishers on the summits of the Dolomites. In the 2008 Giro Piepoli will focus on the high mountains stages and will try to help Ricco  reach the final podium in Milano.

Accompanying the Co-leaders are the following seven riders:
Eros Capecchi is a third years professional and it’s his first season with Saunier Duval. The past two seasons he rode for the Liquigas team. Capecchi will make his debut in a Grand Tour. Capecchi is more a rider for the “middle” mountain stages and hasn’t a bad sprint either. In 2007 he won with Liquigas the TTT in the Settimana Ciclista Coppi & Bartali. In 2008 his best is a 6th place in a stage in Tirreno-Adriatico and the 16th position overall in the Tour de Romandie.

David Canada is one of the most experienced riders in the Saunier Duval team together with Leonardo Piepoli and Raivis Belohvosciks. Canada is one of the domestiques of the team. In some smaller stage races he can ride do well in the overall classification as well. In his long career he won the Vuelta Ciclista a Murcia, the Circuit de la Sarthe and the Volta a Catalunya and other races. His best result in a Grand Tour (he has participated in all three Grand Tours) was a 18th ranking in the Giro D”Italia of 2004. In 2007 he was also 3rd in the final ranking of the Tour de Georgia and 4th in the Tour de Missouri. Thus far in 2008 he was 23rd in the Tour de California, 15th in Lugano and 10th overall in the Presidential Tour of Turkey; a solid year that represents his consistent strength as a rider in stage races.

Iker Camano is also a strong support rider for the team; especially in the mountains, and is a consistent performer in stage races. Camano started his professional career in 2002 with Phonak, in 2004 he joined Euskaltel before switching to Saunier Duval in 2007. In 2004 he finished 26th in the Tour de France which is his best result in a Grand Tour. This season Camano finished: 3rd in the 4th stage of the Tour de California, 4th in the 2nd stage of the Vuelta a Castilla y Leon and 11th in the GP Llodio.

José Alberto Benitez is a Spanish rider and will start his second Grand Tour of his career after a ride in the Vuelta d’Espana 2006. He has won one race with the professionals when he was riding for the Spanish Continental team Spiuk in 2005 where he won a stage in the Vuelta Ciclista a Leon. He has had a good year in so far in 2008 showing good form, by finishing 6th in the overall ranking of the Tour Down Under, finishing 9th in the GP Lugano and 2nd in the overall ranking of the Presidential Tour of Turkey. Benitez's strengths are more in the mountains.

Raivis Belohvosciks is a good rider against the clock and will be very important in the team time-trial to ensure that team captain, Riccardo Ricco will not lose too much time in the beginning of the race. Next to that Belohvosciks is of great value as a helper and has a streak of aggressiveness when needed in breakaways. Belohvosciks is a multiple time-trial champion of Latvia and also a former national road champion. He is no stranger to winning, to name just a few of his victories: the Chrono des Herbiers, Final ranking of the Driedaagse van de Panne, a stage in the Tour de Suisse and the GP D’Europe together with Marco Pinotti in his long pro career.

Luciano Pagliarini is the sprinter of the team. The Brazilian won the 6th stage in the Tour de California this year and had the fastest legs in a stage in the Eneco Tour and the Tour of Missouri for stage wins in 2007. “Paglia” will sure sprint himself a few times in the top 10 and who knows, perhaps he can win a stage?

Last but not least we will introduce Ermanno Capelli. Capelli is a neo pro who will of course make his debut as a Grand Tour rider in the Giro. Capelli will replace Manuele Mori is off the Giro squad while he recuperates from a knee problem. Capelli had a tough spring season already, doing all the Belgian spring classics. But he did quite well; showing himself with long break in the Brabantse Pijl and Gent-Wevelgem. He will go to the Giro to learn; but he's a fast learner and just may surprise in the right break for a win.

The Saunier Duval/Scott full team’s roster includes:
• Riccardo Ricco
• Leonardo Piepoli
• Eros Capecchi
• David Canada
• Iker Camano
• José Alberto Benitez
• Raivis Belohvosciks
• Luciano Pagliarini
• Ermanno Capelli
The team will be directed by the legendary Pietro and Matteo Algeri.

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