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Needless to say, such a Giro course as the one unveiled today pleased the mountain goats and overall contenders, while it wasn't welcomed by the sprinters. To start with, the most famous of them all, a certain Alessandro Petacchi
It was the "Sprinter gentleman" - not much living up to his nickname today - who started the fire. He didn't appreciate such a tough parcours, with very few chances for the fastman, and did little or nothing to hide it in post-presentation interviews: "Nope, I don't like this Giro. Sprinters are given few opportunities, I think no more than five. And it becomes difficult from the early stages. At this point, I'd better take a look at the Tour de France route map, as I might even pick that race and skip the Giro. Yes, I hoped that the fastmen would be taken into consideration a little more". AleJet also thinks that his performances (as in "domination of the sprints") may have upset someone.
If Petacchi cast some doubts on his participation to the upcoming Giro (but his possible absence, no matter how welcomed by the likes of Robbie McEwen, Paride Grillo and the other fastmen, would be a huge blow to the race prestige and organizers, whose choice to make a tough and arguably spectacular event might backfire in this case); on the other side of comments the mountain goats couldn't help but rejoice in the prospect of such a hilly contest. While reigning champion Paolo Savoldelli couldn't attend the Milano ceremony, Gibo Simoni and Damiano Cunego - now finally free to battle to each other - found something in common: both of them were satisfied with the new parcours. The Saunier Daval newcomer in particular, notably because of the comeback of Monte Bondone, a challenging ascent situated in his own area (Trentino), which consequently the dual Giro winner knows well.
2004 Champion Cunego told Italy's Gazzetta dello Sport that "If I want to win the race, then I'll have to go even faster than I did in the 2004 edition. The stage I like the most is the one into Plan de Corones, its unpaved piece in particular. It will be a spectacular one, and I'll try and be there. Plus, a strong team in the Cremona TTT would help me take on the decisive mountain stages with most energies left in my legs, and in a good overall place. I'm very gratified with the possibility of being the only team leader. I think I'll battle it out with Simoni, whom I regard as my most dangerous rival along with Savoldelli."
Ivan Basso's name was not part of the "Damiano Cunego main challenger" list. And we all are supposed to know why; the CSC leader should be focussing on Le Tour this next season. But in Danilo Di Luca's opinion, Ivan might also be "playing poker" in this period, or something like that, and eventually be at the startline at Seraing. Also the man from Abruzzo, another Maglia Rosa contender come May (or so is what the man has been telling since the past spring at least) had good words for the Tour of Italy 2006 course: "I like this Giro, even it's a very hard one. I hope I can keep my condition through all three weeks of racing. Climb gradients aren't much of a problem to me. I hope I can be in good shape everyday, and battle it out stage after stage. (I know that) this is a climber's Giro, with Simoni, Savoldelli, Rujano, Cunego - and Basso if he rides - as my chief rivals". The only thing the blonde rider from Spoltore didn't sound to appreciate was the final stage splitting: "I don't think there's any need for a last day morning uphill ITT followed by a short sprinter's stage. I experienced something like that in brief stage races like the Tour of the Basque Country. It's a further and useless effort in a one-week contest; figure out what it could turn out to be after an all-out battle that lasted twenty days".
Facts might even prove the Liquigas rider right, as the UCI guys, never fans of final day half-stages in Grand Tours, might deny permission to hold the Ghisallo ITT. "The the Ghisallo half stage was a proposal made by the Ghisallo Cycling Museum, a way to celebrate the museum itself, which will be opened that same day (Sunday, May 28 2006). Should we be denied permission to run it, we'll try and find another way to pay homage to such a sanctuary and museum the whole world is envious of" were words from Giro Boss (for the second straight year) - and former Gazzetta dello Sport journalist - Angelo Zomegnan concerning the Ghisallo ITT affair.