The Phonak riders are getting together to
prepare for the Giro d’Italia, which starts on Saturday in the Belgian city of
Seraing, near Liège. Phonak's biggest hopes for the tour are pinned on Victor
Hugo Peña. But good stage results are also expected of Axel Merckx, Martin
Elmiger, Gregory Rast or Fabrizio Guidi.
The route will be a crowd-pleaser but is less popular with the riders. Baffi is
very familiar with the route for the Giro d’Italia. "The spectators will like
the difficult parcours, but it will be less popular with the riders," says the
Italian with a laugh. The first three stages of the Giro will be held in
Belgium, with finishes in Charleroi, Namur and Hotton. RCS, the organiser of the
Giro, is using the initial phase of the Giro to pay respect to the large Italian
communities in Flanders and Wallonia. Roughly 200,000 Italians live and work in
the region, and some of them for several generations. Adriano Baffi thinks the
very difficult final week will be the key part of the Giro. But the 11th stage,
the very long (50 km) time trial in Pontedera, will most likely be the first
"Finding the right man at the right moment," that's what Adriano Baffi
considers to be the biggest challenge for the Phonak team at the Giro d’Italia.
The team is placing a lot of expectations on Victor Hugo Peña, in particular.
Based on the results at the Tour de Romandie, Adriano Baffi is somewhat cautious
in terms of expectations. But Juan Fernandez, who acted as Directeur Sportif at
the Tour de Romandie, reassures him: "If Victor Hugo Peña is spared illness and
injury at the Giro d’Italia, then I believe he's capable of a Top 5 spot." As a
Belgian, Axel Merckx is also especially motivated, and Baffi hopes that Elmiger,
Rast or Guidi will also be successful if an opportunity presents itself. Baffi
knows this much: "Everyone on my team will give his all."
Adriano Baffi has already won six Giro stages. As an active rider, the tour in
his own country has always been the highlight in his yearly schedule. In the
meantime, the Giro d’Italia has become something of a routine for Adriano Baffi.
"Most of all, the Giro for me is competition. And then there are the people and
the fact that I'm at home in Italy." But another significant factor is that the
Giro poses an incentive for its riders. "On 28 May the second largest and
therefore also the second most important tour of the year will be decided in
Phonak Hearing Systems Team
Martin Elmiger, Fabrizio Guidi, José Enriqué Gutierrez, Patrik McCarty, Axel
Merckx, Victor Hugo Peña, Gregory Rast, Johann Tschopp, Steve Zampieri
Giro d'Italia, 06.05.2006 – 28.05.2006
John Lelangue, Juan Fernandez, Adriano Baffi