The boys in white and green will be there, as usual. The Giro's poor coverage by Spanish medias and the lack of commercial interests in Italy kept other Hiberian teams far from this year's race, but in spite of these factors the most ancient squad (and sponsor) in the peloton didn't want to miss a chance, and gave a further proof of their love for this sport: Kelme-Costa Blanca will be the only team representing Spain in the 85th Tour of Italy.
But they won't be there with a "symbolical function" only: according to what Team Director Vicente Belda said in a recent interview, they'll try to give many signs of their presence, mainly by winning a stage, but also a rider (possibly the new appointed team leader Aitor González) in the TOP 10 Overall in Milan wouldn't be unwelcomed.
"I know that we can do well in the race, so I'm moderately optimistic about our chances in such a demanding competition, but where we frequently had good performances in the past".
The team from the Valencian Community of Spain won't line-up any of the big names, but rather a bunch of young riders hoping to follow the steps of the several champions launched by Kelme in recent years, from Escartin to Colombian "Chepe" González, from Heras to "Chechu" Rubiera to current team members (although saved for TdF and Vuelta) Botero and Sevilla.
According to Belda, the Italian race will give some of his riders a chance to demonstrate how far they can go when
they are team leaders, and others to strengthen the good impression they made recently. Aitor González belongs to the first category, while Santiago "Santi" Pérez, surprising stage winner in last year's Volta ao Portugal, and (even more suprisingly) almost podium place getter (he came close, as he took fourth overall) in the very recent Tour de Romandie, is part of the second.
Both guys are in good form, and Belda is persuaded they can give him some satisfaction. But Kelme's Team Director, mostly interested in stage wins, thinks more boys in white and green can have their say in the race too, namely "Isaac Gálvez and Angel Vicioso, two riders that already surprised in the past, as more than one time they edged out the fastest wheels of the peloton".
Indeed Gálvez outsprinted no less than Erik Zabel in the opening leg of Mallorca Challenge last February, while Catalan sprinter Vicioso even raised his arms in triumph in a 2000 Giro stage, but he was stripped of his victory by the judges, who sanctioned him because of irregular sprinting. A controversial decision very few people agreed with, that made the young Spaniard break into tears. So the 2002 Tour of Italy could give him the chance to take a well-deserved revenge. Especially after the guy proved (by taking GP Miguel Indurain and GP Primavera Amorebieta in April) that he knows how to win.
González will be the team's man for the GC, but without being obsessed with that. And the other riders won't be forced to stay inside the peloton working for him. As Belda explained in the final part of the interview, the Kelmes will be free to go and try to get into breakways, with just one thing in their mind: to amaze. That's Kelme's mission in the Giro. And in the past they proved so many times they are damn good at doing it !!