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89th Giro d'Italia - Phonak Team Preview
By Staff
Date: 5/4/2006
89th Giro d'Italia - Phonak Team Preview

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 decisive stage.

"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 Milan."

Phonak Hearing Systems Team
Giro d'Italia, 06.05.2006 – 28.05.2006

Martin Elmiger, Fabrizio Guidi, José Enriqué Gutierrez, Patrik McCarty, Axel Merckx, Victor Hugo Peña, Gregory Rast, Johann Tschopp, Steve Zampieri

Team-Management: John Lelangue, Juan Fernandez, Adriano Baffi

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