Aussie Assault on the 2011 Giro d'Italia
Seven Australian's will look to make their mark in Italy over the next three weeks.
Australia will have seven riders present when the 2011 Giro d'Italia kicks off with a 19.1km team time trial in Turin on Saturday. Mark Renshaw (HTC-Highroad), Robbie McEwen (RadioShack), Richie Porte (SaxoBank-Sungard) and the Garmin Cervelo quartet of Jack Bobridge, Cameron Meyer, Matt Wilson and Brett Lancaster will all fly the Aussie flag as they look to help their respective teams take glory during the tough 3496-kilometre course from Turin to Milan.
Race organiser Angelo Zomegnan has made this edition the toughest grand tour route in recent times with 39 categorised climbs including eight mountaintop finishes with three back to back in stages 13, 14 and 15 before an uphill time trial in stage 16.
Mark Renshaw will be looking to set up the world's fastest man on two wheels - Mark Cavendish in the early stages. Renshaw has had a solid year winning the tour of Qatar back in February. With Cavendish looking for the green jersey in the Tour de France, it is unlikely he will finish the race which could leave Renshaw an opportunity to go for stage glory later on.
Robbie McEwen will look to foil Renshaw's plans as he tries to beat Cavendish and the other sprinters from stage 2 to stage 12.
Richie Porte was called in as a late replacement for Gustav Larsson in the Saxo-Bank Sungard lineup and will be a vital domestique for odds on favourite Alberto Contador. The twenty-six year old made his name known in the Giro last year finishing seventh overall winning the best young rider competition and wearing the leaders Maglia Rosa jersey during the race.
Brett Lancaster, Matt Wilson, Cameron Meyer and Jack Bobridge will be doing the best they can to help American Tyler Farrar win a stage as well as look after Frenchman Christophe Le Mevel's general classification hopes. Meyer himself is looking forward to the race, a race that he's loved the last two years.
The Australian time-trial champion will be looking forward to wearing the green and gold jersey three times during the race. Meyer made his grand tour debut in the Giro in 2009 pulling out of the race half way through before completing it last year which included two top 10 finishes with a respectable 8th place finish in the final stage, the Milan time trial. The 23 year-old is looking to better that performance in 2011 and go for a stage victory.
'Later on in the tour I hope for the opportunity to try my luck in a breakaway for a stage win,' Meyer said. 'I think I am much more experienced this time around and given the right circumstances I can challenge on one of the days.'
Asked what stages Meyer may be looking to make a move on, he replied, 'I think stages 17 and 18 are going to be won from a breakaway or an opportunist so I will look to have a go on these days and also have another go at a top ten result in the final time trial in Milan.'
Cam Meyer (Right) sprinting to victory in stage 4 of the Tour down Under
Photo © 2011
Meyer has enjoyed a brilliant year on the road and on the track. He started the year off successfully defending his Australian time trial crown in January before he went on to win his first major road race, the Santos Tour Down Under. Whilst he was unable to defend the points race jersey at the track world championships, he did defend his Madison crown with Jack Bobridge. Meyer believes he has the form and experience to deliver a strong result at some stage in the next three weeks.
'My form is coming along nicely. I feel I am in much better shape and condition going into this year’s Giro than the previous two,' Meyer added. 'Having just done Liege-Bastogne-Liege and the Tour de Romandie has given me some much needed race intensity before starting the grand tour.'