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91st Giro d'Italia - High Road Team Preview
 
By Bart Hazen
Date: 5/6/2008
91st Giro d'Italia - High Road Team Preview
 

Giro d'Italia - High Road Team Preview
USA Team High Road brings its Young Guns and a few Big Guns - a talented, fast and strong team with co-captain's Pinotti and Sivtsov in search of pink and stage wins.

Team High Road will start with a very strong team and a very mixed team in the 2008 Giro D’Italia. The race is a primary goal of the team:  "Racing well in the Giro d’Italia is a primary goal for Team High Road,” said Bob Stapleton. “We’re sending a very strong line up to a race with great tradition and a bright future. It’s also a personal favorite for our riders and management alike.”


2007 Giro Stage & Podium: Marco Pinotti puts on his first Maglia Rosa.
photo courtesy Team CSC c. Tim De Waele

The team will be led by 2007 Maglia Rosa wearer Marco Pinotti and Tour de Georgia winner Kanstantin Sivtsov. Marc Cavendish will be the sprinter of the team.

Team High Road
Giro d'Italia Roster
• Marco Pinotti
• Morris Possoni
• Kanstantin Sivtsov
• Frantisek Rabon
• Adam Hansen
• Tony Martin
• Andre Greipel
• Bradley Wiggins
• Mark Cavendish

The riders are very motivated for the race. Ambitious as always, Team High Road has multiple objectives for the Giro: amongst them to repeat  2007’s spell in the leader’s jersey for Marco Pinotti, stage wins with Mark Cavendish, victory in the opening team time trial and a serious crack at the general classification with Tour of Georgia winner Kanstantin Sivtsov. It wouldn't surprise if the team accomplished most of these goals at the Giro.

Marco Pinotti is very motivated for the race as the Giro D’Italia is his season highlight. He really is looking forward to the race and wants to do well. His season so far has been tremendous with a long break in the Fleche Wallonne, 15th overall in the Vuelta a Pais Vasco and 3rd overall in the Tour de Romandie. Pinotti said: “The chance to wear the pink jersey again is hugely important for me. My race condition is much better than last year. I’m going well and the team is in great shape. It will be harder for me to get in the pink jersey due to the fact that I’ll be watched more, but my self-confidence is a lot higher, too. And that goes for the whole team.”

Morris Possoni is a promising young Italian Climber. The 23 year old from Ponte San Pietro, showed in both the Vuelta a Pais Vasco and the Tour de Romandie that he has climbing skills and grinta to do well. He also rode in the breaks and was aggressive. Possoni finished second behind Kim Kirchen in a tough stage in the Vuelta a Pais Vasco and finished second in the mountains classification. In the Tour de Romandie he finished 15th overall and won the sprint classification. This is Morris's second grand tour, finishing 88th in the 2007 Vuelta a Espana.

Kanstantin Sivtsov is the GC rider of the team after his great performance in the Tour de Georgia. The 25 year old Belorussian won the overall ranking and the queens stage to Brasstown Bald holding off Trent Lowe and Levi Leipheimer. Sivtsov is also a former U23 World Champion (2003) and former national champ in 2006; he has already debuted in the 2007 Tour de France finishing a respectable 32nd.

Frantisek Rabon and Adam Hansen are the support riders on the High Road crew. 24 year old Rabon did a great job last year for Pinotti when he was riding in the pink jersey. Amazingly, Frantisek is in his fifth year as a pro starting with the PSK/Whirlpool squad in the Czech Republic and was signed with T-Mobile in 2006, at 24 this will be his third ride in the Giro having finished 147th in 2006, and 79th in 2007 as a young gun.

Adam Hansen is the current Australian time-trial champion which will help the team in the team time trial and finished second in the road championships in Ballarat. Hansen is a strong all around rider as at home in a one day race as a stage race. The 26 year old rider from Cairns, Queensland will celebrate his 27th birthday (May 11th) on the second day of the Giro; this will be Adam's second grand tour having finished 89th on the G.C. of theVuelta a España in the magenta colors of T-Mobile in his grand tour debut.


Tony Martin and Adam Hansen celebrate the win at the finish.
Photo © 2008 Bart Hazen

Tony Martin is a German neo pro who has had a very good season this year. 23 year old Martin from Cottbus, Germany won the Hel van het Mergelland in April ahead of his team mate Adam Hansen on an epic day in the rain finishing 7 minutes ahead of the nearest finisher. He also finished as 4th in the Time-Trial of the Tour de Romandie. In his U23 period he won amongst other races the prestigious Thüringen Rundfahrt and the FBD Insurance Ras. He also won stages in the Giro delle Regione. He can climb quite well and has a strong time-trial. This is Martin's grand tour debut but his rivals would well remember that he finished 2nd on the G.C. of the 2007 Tour de l'Avenir.

Bradley Wiggins is a time-trial specialist - especially in the short prologues. This year he shined at the Track World Championships in Manchester where he won the Individual Pursuit, the team pursuit and the Madison together with Mark Cavendish. On the road his best result  in 2008 was the 2nd place in the prologue of the Tour de California behind Cancellara. In 2007 he won amongst others the prologue in Dunkerque and the Dauphine Liberé. In the coming Giro Bradley will target the time-trials and will be one of the motors in the openings team time-trial together with Marco Pinotti.

The Sprinters
Last but not least we will introduce the dynamic sprinter duo of the USA squad; Andre Greipel and Mark Cavendish. André Greipel started the 2008 season well with four stage wins and the overall win in the Tour Down Under. He also won the points ranking and the Down under Classic. After the Tour Down Under he finished 3rd in Nokere Koerse and 2nd and 3rd in a stage of the Tour de Georgia. In the Giro he will be the lead-out for Manxman Mark Cavendish. Greipel at 25 years of age from Rostock will start his 3rd grand tour after two outings in the Vuelta a Espana in 2006 and 07 finishing 125th and 163rd.


Mark Cavendish in yellow after his win in the Tour of Romandie prologue last week. Photo © Fotoreporter Sirotti

Mark Cavendish will start in his second Grand Tour after he started in the Tour de France last year but did not finish; Cav will celebrate his 22nd birthday during the Giro on May 21rst. Cavendish is looking forward to proving himself in a Grand Tour during this Giro and as preparation for the Olympic Games (also count in Wiggins) later on this year. At the moment Cavendish is one of the fastest guys in the bunch if the streets are flat. Thus far Cavendish has shown he is in great shape by winning two stages in the Driedaagse van de Panne, by winning the Scheldeprijs, by winning the kermesse of Made and on top of that the victory in the prologue of the Tour de Romandie. He also became track world champion Madison in Manchester together with Bradley Wiggins.

“We all love this race and are happy to be bringing such a strong roster,” said lead Team Director for the Giro, Valerio Piva. “The team has had great success already this year and we hope to bring our enthusiasm and more success to the Giro.”

The 2008 Giro D’Italia will start on Saturday May 10 with a 23.6 km team time-trial in and around Palermo - Count on the USA registered Team High Road, (yeah we're just wrapping our minds around that too) to be among the favorites in the opening stage. For more information on Team High Road please visit www.highroadsports.com

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