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92nd Giro d'Italia - Garmin/Slipstream Team Preview
By Staff
Date: 5/5/2009
92nd Giro d'Italia - Garmin/Slipstream Team Preview

The 92nd Giro d'Italia - Garmin/Slipstream Team Preview
The American team will be charging into the 2009 Giro with all guns blazing as they target victory in the very first stage, the prestigious Team Time Trial around picturesque Venice.

By Giles Belbin

David Millar and Magnus Backstedt lift the Christian Vandevelde on their shoulders as the team celebrates their team time trial win and taking the race lead. Photo © 2009 Fotoreporter Sirotti

Garmin-Slipstream have made no secret of their desire to defend the Team Time Trial crown they won in last year's Giro by selecting a team packed full of time trialling specialists. Last year Christian Vande Velde became the first to wear the Maglia Rosa in the 91st edition when the team took a narrow victory over CSC, and this year they will be looking to repeat the feat and get their team leader into pink for the race's early stages.

Team Director, Matt White, set out the team's goals saying, “we are bringing an incredible group of riders to the Giro d’Italia, and we have some big goals we want to achieve. The team has been training hard for this race and we’d of course love to get the Maglia Rosa again, but we will be happy with a few strong performances.”

Garmin/Slipstream Squad for the 2009 Giro d'Italia
Christian Vande Velde (USA)
Bradley Wiggins (Great Britain)
Cameron Meyer (Australia)
Danny Pate (USA)
David Millar (Great Britain)
David Zabriskie (USA)
Julian Dean (New Zealand)
Tom Danielson (USA)
Tyler Farrar (USA)

Christian Vande Velde Photo © 2009 Fotoreporter Sirotti  

Christian Vande Velde
Vande Velde is without doubt Garmin-Slipstream's team leader for stage races but it remains to be seen just how in-form the 32 year old American is, particularly with the Tour de France not too far away.

It is a special rider indeed who can target, and achieve, high placings in both the Giro and the Tour and the suspicion must be that, come July, Vande Velde will be looking to equal, or even improve upon, his impressive fourth place (after Bernard Kohl's disqualification) in last year's Tour. Indeed the team recognizes as much, with Matt White saying, “Narrowing down a Grand Tour list is always difficult, especially when guys like Ryder Hesjedal have been having a tremendous season. But we need to keep our goal of helping Christian at the Tour de France in mind, and preserving someone like Ryder now could be a huge benefit to us later.”

The 2008 Tour of Missouri champion is a strong all round bike rider, particularly adept in the mountains, and so the route of this year's Giro should suit him. But with the likelihood that he is riding the Giro to hone his form for the Tour, despite being recognized as Garmin's leader, it is more than possible that Vande Velde may not be the highest of Garmin's riders in the General Classification come the final podium in Rome.

Indeed that honour could well befall Tom Danielson. The 31 year old former Discovery Team rider is again, a strong all rounder with good time-trialing and great climbing abilities, attributes that will serve him well in a Giro with six summit finishes and approaching 100 kilometres of time-trialing.

Tom Danielson
Danielson has good pedigree in Grand Tours, finishing 7th and 6th in the 2005 and 2006 editions of the Vuelta respectively and for a while being tipped as a possible successor to Lance Armstrong as leader at Discovery. However, he is yet to complete a Giro, although he went deep into the third week of the 2006 race, during which he posted some impressive results in some of the race's toughest stages.

This year Danielson's most impressive result has been 9th place overall in the tough Tour of California, but the Giro is another level up. Danielson will need to find his form of three or four years ago in order to trouble the favourites at this year's race, but a solid performance and perhaps the chance of a stage win are without question, realistic objectives.

Danny Pate
Nine year pro, Danny Pate, is another of Garmin's riders well suited to the demands of the Giro. A gifted time trialist and climber, Pate's wide ranging abilities were well demonstrated by his strong showing in this year's Criterium International, billed as a mini Tour de France, where he finished a credible third. A crack at a stage win is a distinct possibility for the American who has certainly demonstrated in the past the potential to deliver a victory in a stage of a Grand Tour. Of particular note is his impressive performance in Stage 15 of last year's Tour de France, a tough mountain stage to Prato Nevoso. Pate got into the leading group of three and lead the race up the final ascent. He finished third on the stage, a mere 10 seconds down, an experience that will of course serve him well should he find himself in a similar situation in this year's Giro.

Clearly one of the top priorities of Garmin is to claim the Team Time Trial (TTT) in Venice. The next four riders have been selected with this aim squarely in mind.

Bradley Wiggins, Cameron Meyer, David Millar and David Zabriskie are all time trial specialists and will all benefit the team in the course of the TTT.

Bradley Wiggins in "time machine mode"    Photo © 2009 Fotoreporter Sirotti  

British rider Wiggins is particularly strong in team pursuit disciplines, a talent that will naturally be put to good use in the TTT. Wiggins however is also able to feature in breakaways on flat stages, as his display in stage 6 of the 2007 Tour demonstrated when he rode alone for kilometre after kilometre, claiming the combativity award for the day.

Like Wiggins, 20 year old Cameron Meyer has spent a lot of time on the track and will be a great asset for the TTT. In addition the Australian could well fancy his chances of posting a good result in one of the individual time trials.

David Millar has of course posted some fantastic results in previous GT time trials with victories in races against the clock in both the Vuelta and the Tour. He is perhaps best suited to TT distances of around 30 kilometres and so the time trials in this year's Giro may not to his absolute liking. But Millar always has the capacity to do well and he is likely to post a significant result in at least one.

David Zabriskie on his way to his 4th Time Trial Championship.
Photo © 2009 Action Images

Take a look at current (4 time) American time trial champion David Zabriskie's career highlights and you quickly realize that the former CSC rider has a rich history in the time trial discipline. He has posted many of his most impressive results in races against the clock, including victories in the Vuelta, Giro and the Tour. However he is anything but a one-trick pony and has recorded high overall placings in one week stage races, particularly in the Tour of California, and could quite possibly place highly on a road stage.

Completing the team are sprinters Julian Dean and Tyler Farrar. New Zealander Dean has been a professional for some 13 years and brings with him a wealth of experience, as well as a real turn of speed in the sprint. The 34 year old former Credit Agricole rider will be looking for stage victories when the road stays (relatively) level. Dean, who has recorded a bunch of top ten placings this year, will be hoping to record his first victory of the year, and his first individual win in a GT.

Tyler Farrar

Tyler Farrar, is another strong sprinter who will hoping to perform well in the bunch sprints. 2009 is shaping up to be perhaps the six year pro's best to date with strong performances in Tirreno -Adriatico, where he won one stage and placed second in a other and the Tour de Romandie where he recorded three top ten placings, including one second place. Everything points to a fastman coming to maturity and form, and there is every possibility that Farrar could record his most significant result to date in this year's Giro. More to the point the fans can anticipate Farrar weighing in against Petacchi and Cavendish and others for line honors.

Stage 3 Tirreno - Adriatico: Tyler Farrar Wins!!    Photo © 2009 Fotoreporter Sirotti

With the time trialing strength in this team, it will be a real shock if they don't record a very fast time in Saturday's TTT. With the team fully focused on this aim, expect to see a Garmin-Slipstream rider don the first Maglia Rosa of the 2009 Giro in Venice on Saturday evening. Also expect the team to feature prominently in the top ten or fifteen placings of the individual time trials, realistically they could place as many as four or five riders near the top of the results.

2009 Garmin/Slipstream Team Profile

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