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87th Giro d'Italia: The Route. More Reactions
 
By Fabio
Date: 11/9/2003
87th Giro d'Italia: The Route. More Reactions
 


Giro d'Italia 2004 - Route Presentation: More Reactions

Pietro Calabrese: The Director of “Gazzetta dello Sport”, the paper one more time organizing the race, sounded satisfied with the route and the fact all doping-related matters could, for one, stay away from the doors of Milan’s Auditorium Theatre. He said that “It’s true that we have less kilometers against the clock this time, but I think it will just make the race even more spectacular. I hope you appreciated the “sadistic attitude” of (race boss) Carmine Castellano, who placed two decisive mountain stages, each of them with the potential to cause major changes in the ranking, in the penultimate stage of the competition and the day before. That will bring up lots of emotions. And let me say one more thing: I’m glad that, after many years, we can salute the Giro without having to worry about things that have nothing to do with sport”.
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Franco Ballerini: Italy’s National team coach, an unbiased voice as he isn’t the DS of any trade team or rider in particular, expressed his opinion on the 2004 Giro route in front of the Gazzetta dello Sport microphones. Below are his words.

“I think that, even though when it comes to the Tour of Italy it’s mostly the riders that make the race a good one or not, next year’s route features a demanding start, and the first climbs, Corno alle Scale in particular, could take their toll on some riders, and certainly have the potential to promise for a spectacular race. Montevergine di Mercogliano is not an extremely hard climb, and I don’t think GC contenders are going to face too many difficulties there. The fact that the competition may be wide open in its early phase could help us see some great things from many a rider. But as the race hits the final, decisive week, things will get tougher for anyone, either overall contenders or just riders wishing to make it to Milan.

Asked about the decision to include just one Individual Time Trial in the race course, “Ballero” said that: “It may be a good choice, and I think it could help riders like Simoni. But don’t forget that the ITT takes place in an usually windy area, and heavy winds might turn it into a very tough ride. And sometimes, in such conditions, also a single ITT may be enough (to make the gap)”.

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Yaroslav Popovych: Last year’s surprising podium finisher attended the Giro presentation ceremony and, when interviewed by RAI’s Alessandro Fabbretti, expressed his hopes for an even better result in 2004 “In my first Giro I finished 12th. The last time I was 3rd. And I do hope that I may do even better next year, and also manage to win any stage. As for the route I think that, like others said, after a first part mainly reserved for the sprinters, the Giro outcome will be determined in the very final stages only”.

The LBK-Colnago’s Ukrainian sounded happy at the inclusion of just one ITT in the parcours: “In 2003 I went fast in the first Time Trial, but wasn’t that good in the second. So I hope the presence of just one TT may be of help to me, and I can do fine ( against the clock)”.

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Michele Scarponi: One of Italy’s best prospects, the young rider (24) of Domina Vacanze-Elitron comes from a good Vuelta, where he finished 13th overall and hit the top 10 in the grueling stage finishing into Andorra, and hopes in an even better Giro in 2004: “My performance in the last Tour of Spain made me realize one more time that I can be a man for the GC, and in the next Giro I’ll do my best to stay with the best ones, and perhaps pull off some good results. In my opinion the race is tailored for the climbers, with just one ITT, where the mountain goats going for the overall have to limit their losses, just to give it all in the last, very difficult stages, where the strongest guys and those with more gasoline left will certainly have something to say”.

Some weeks ago climber Scarponi tested the Montevergine di Mercogliano ascent, where the 2004 Giro is set to have a second mountain top finish, coming on Saturday, May 15 (Stage 7) “That is one of the first climbs we’ll have to tackle. And even if it’s not that steep, not the hardest climb either, it’s a long ascent, full of turns and bends. So I think it will be an important test for us” were his impressions.

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French Journalist Philippe Brunel (l'Equipe), special envoy to the Giro for many years, focused on the (lack of) international dimension of the event, and notably the field: in his opinion “The race needs any foreign champion. in the last editions the Giro suffered from the lack of big guns from abroad” As for the route itself, Brunel labeled the 204 Giro as “traditional”, also pointing out that, in the end “it’s the riders that make the race”.

And when it comes to the “international dimension” of the “Corsa Rosa” it looks like the Tour of Italy is unfortunately going to lose one of the best foreign teams, as Kelme is reportedly going to skip the race this time. But the Giro will probably find back the great CSC, a protagonist of the 2002 edition (courtesy of Tyler Hamilton’s performance, but also of the huge support the whole team provided him) that would compete on Italian roads again, after the addition of Italian stars like Bartoli and Ivan Basso (and even if the latter will focus on the Tour de France only, in the 2004 season at least).

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But the same Giro Boss Carmine Castellano had something to say on the “foreign riders” topic: “It’s a complicated matter, that deserve more than just a few words here. There’s no negotiation with any foreign team ongoing, but only because the UCI will communicate us the Div. I Team List on December 21 only. Then all teams will have 40 days at disposal to apply for a spot in the race, with the deadline expiring on January 31. We’ll issue the list of participating teams two months later, on March 31. And I do hope that some foreign teams will actually apply”.
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Andrea Noé: After several years as loyal domestique (of Tonkov, Evans etc.) the Alessio rider was finally able to have his own race in 2003, and showed all of his class as he finished fourth. And what could happen in 2004, when the man from Magenta will tackle a new challenge at the age of 35 ? “I would be happy if I managed to repeat the results I got last year. I think those who draw the Giro route did a good job: there’s room for everyone, hopefully for me too. As for the ascents, I’m not new to most of them: the Mortirolo is a well-known mountain, I climbed the Vivione more than once and I can say that’s hard too, and also the Presolana is a demanding ascent. My favourite to win the GC? I would pick Simoni”.
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Ruggero Marzoli: The interviews round-up continues with another Alessio rider: 27-year-olf Marzoli, stage winner and podium finisher in the last Tirreno-Adriatico (Italy’s second stage race, losing to the Giro only) “I noticed that many stages suit my skills. Legs that feature easier climbs, where a break can make it to the line, and one can have a shot at winning the stage in a small bunch sprint. All things considered, there’s room for many to do well”.
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Time for sprinters now, to start with a veteran of the Italian peloton, Fabio Baldato, stage winner in the 2003 edition “: Next year I may have a go in small bunch sprints. As for massive sprints, we have a young and fast rider, Angelo Furlan. He had a troubled season this year, but we believe in the man and want to help him to be at the same level as the best sprinters”.
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On to another sprinter coming from a troubled season (but also from a podium spot in a recent 6-Day event on a French track): Ivan Quaranta. The man couldn’t show his skills in the past Tour of Italy, mainly due to Saeco’s own choice to build a team around Gilberto Simoni, but as he left the “red army” at the end of the 2003 season, things should take a different turn in the future: “The last time I was forced to watch the Giro sprints on TV. And I can tell you that it wasn’t a pleasant experience, notably after I was on the same level (as the fastest guys in the peloton) for many years. But now I’ve moved to a different team, and found back (Stefano) Giuliani as DS. And there was perfect agreement between us since the beginning, since we started planning the next season. My main objective for 2004 will be the Giro d’Italia, and I already eyed some stages I could do well in”.
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The "Sprinters Festival”, and this interviews round-up, ends with another fastman (and notably leadout man) who left his team at the end of the 2003 season, which also saw the guy claim a Giro stage: Giovanni Lombardi. The 34-year-old from Pavia is still uncertain about his next destination (Stayer ??), but has no doubts about the fact that “I’m working hard in order to have a good 2004. I changed my team, but not my targets. They are always the same: the Giro and, if I am given the opportunity, I’ll race the Tour de France too”.

More news, details and statistics on he 2004 Tour of Italy to come, stay tuned !!

 
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