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Giro Teams: Quickstep-Innergetic
 
By Staff
Date: 5/5/2005
Giro Teams: Quickstep-Innergetic
 

By Jan Janssens

Even though the Quickstep team operates on a Belgian license its character is very much international, building on the legacy of the famed Mapei with some 8 different nationalities represented in the team. And when we say Mapei we also say ĎItalian,í and indeed, the Italian connection at Quickstep is very outspoken with a strong presence in both riders and staff. And unsurprisingly, 5 out of 9 riders in their selection for this yearís Giro are Italian!

Leading their team is one of the finest classic racers of the last 10 years, Paolo Bettini, looking to make up for his spring. The Olympic Champion missed out on most of the spring classics because of an illness, but Bettini proved in LiŤge that he doesnít need a lot of time to get in shape with a nice 4th place in one of the toughest races of the year. And weíll be in for a treat if all that really was Ėaccording to him - meant as a build-up for the Giro! However, Bettini lacks the real good stuff when it comes to climbing on great height, so aiming for a top 5 ranking or something like that is probably out of reach for Il Grillo. But what he lacks on the real high climbs, Bettini makes up for in the medium-sized ones: a quick glance at the altimetry tells us that the first week has two stages of climbing to average heightsÖso his sprinting capacities coupled to his climbing skills could very well land him in the Maglia Rosa for a few days. Something I believe he will be aiming for in the first part of this Giro, together with a few stage wins.

Quickstep has provided the man from La California with some pretty good assistance to conquer the Italian roads. First on the list is Italian champion Cristian Moreni, on a similar mission to Bettini: attempting to make up for a lost spring after crashing badly in that other Italian race, Milan Sanremo. Heís pretty much like his team leader in that heís a good climber, but not one of the best. But no doubt heíll do everything within his power to show off his national jersey to the tifosi!

Another one of the mountain minions is Josť Antonio Garrido, but itís hard to judge his qualities. He came to Quickstep along with (and at the request of) Pecharroman, and now seems to be favoured over his former race leader by Lefevere to assist Bettini. Like I said, itís really hard to make an assessment of him as heís shown virtually nothing in the 2 years heís been at Quickstep. The best indication of his form was a 64th place in the final ranking of the Tour de Romandie.

Continuing the storyline of Italians with a failed spring, we bring you: Filippo Pipo Pozzato. Unlike Bettini and Moreni he was alive and riding, he just wasnít doing it as well as he was expected to, save for an outburst of talent at Paris-Roubaix. His manager Lefevere has shown some discontent over Pozattoís performances during spring and now expects him to make up for it at the Giro. Pozzato is a super-talent, always has been, and left Fassa Bortolo to get away from the iron chokehold that the Petacchi-effect put over the team, so expect him to try and make the Fassas look bad at every occasion he gets.

Apart from all these classy, flashy riders the B&B (Bettini & Boonen) team are also packing a few straight-up work horses: the ever present Davide Bramati was one of the few Italian Quickstep riders that actually made the team a few times this spring. With his crazy experience Bramati is the perfect man to guide some of the younger riders of this team through the waspís nest that the Giro can be. Especially Mads Christensen, who immediately gets served the first big stage race of the season in his first year as a pro! Christensen is barely 20 years old and, while not a Thomas Dekker, he has shown that he can climb and has the stuff to become a very good rider. But itís always hard to say which young talented riders will cut it as a pro and who wonít, regardless of their talent, so letís just see what this Giro will bring for him. Relatively young Dutchman Addy Engels will be ready to roll up his sleeves for Bettini and Zanini when they ask him too, and while heís at it he can gain some valuable experience and strength in this race.

Itís a bit vague why Tom Boonenís personal lead-out man Stefano Zanini is making an appearance on the Giro team, apart from the obvious fact that heís Italian. A good sprinter, but not fast enough to trouble the herd of sprinters that has chosen Petacchi-land to strut their stuff. I assume he will try to help Bettini take bonus seconds wherever he can in the sprint, as itís hard to imagine Stefano setting pace in the mountains.

Last but not least is coming man and only Belgian on the team, Nick Nuyens. Now that he graduated heíll be able to put all his efforts into his professional cycling career, without having to take a break to study for a few months each season. Heís shown that heís capable of winning semi-classics like Het Volk, but it remains to be seen if he can be a factor at a race like the Giro. Expect to see him in a break or two, or working for Bettini if itís necessary.

Overall itís a strange but solid team that the Floorboys are sending to Italy: no real sprinters, no real climbers, no real GC favourites; but a damn fine team of all-rounders. Unfortunately itís been ages since an all-rounder (Jalabert) could win on one of three big stage races, and it doesnít look like any of these riders will change that. But a Bettini knows his own shortcomings and will probably try to dynamite the race on places that no one expects it, no doubt making for spectacular transition stages!

Quickstep-Innergetic for the Giro d'Italia

Paolo Bettini (Ita)
Filippo Pozzato (Ita)
Cristian Moreni (Ita)
Stefano Zanini (Ita)
Davide Bramati (Ita)
Josť Antonio Garrido (Spa)
Addy Engels (Hol)
Nick Nuyens (Bel)
Mads Christensen (Dan)

 
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