Alberto Contador, Riis and Cobo react to Giro d’Italia route
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Sunday, October 16, 2011

Alberto Contador, Riis and Cobo react to Giro d’Italia route

by VeloNation Press at 6:17 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Giro d'Italia
 
2011 winner will concentrate fully on Tour de France rather than racing in Italy

Alberto ContadorDefending champion Alberto Contador, his Saxo Bank SunGard team manager Bjarne Riis and Juan Jose Cobo (Geox TMC), the Vuelta a España winner, were all in attendance at today’s big launch of the 2012 Giro d’Italia, and each gave their reactions about the race.

Contador looks at this point in time to be very unlikely to take part in the race again, preferring to put all his efforts into the Tour de France, but Riis will have a team there and Cobo might also take part. All three saw the route as a positive one.

“If I should let my heart decide, I'd go to Herning in May next year to take on the Giro but I have other objectives next summer,” said Contador, confirming he’ll miss the event. He finished back in fifth in this year’s Tour after dominating the Italian contest, and doesn’t want to take any chances in 2012. Still, even though he won’t be there, he said that he expected the race to be an impressive one, and confirmed that would take part in another RCS Sport-organised competition earlier in the year.

“I know the Danes have put in a great effort to create a good start of the race and I think everyone will be surprised to experience the passion for cycling there,” he said. “I think the route is less extreme than this year but the stage finishes might cause problems for some riders as it might get nervous. The final week of the race will be very tough in the mountains.

“I'm sorry that I won't be there but I feel right at home in Italy and I'm looking forward to be doing the Tirreno-Adriatico next year.”

Compatriot and fellow Grand Tour winner Cobo is at the peak of his career thus far. With chief team sponsor Geox being an Italian company, the Giro is of major interest to it. Denis Menchov and Carlos Sastre led the team there this year but failed to make a major impression; if Cobo enters and is in the same form as he was in the Vuelta, his strong climbing means that he could contend for the overall title.

However he said that it was still too soon to know if he would take part or not. “In my career I've only participated in one Giro, in 2005, my first year in the pros,” he said. “At the moment I don't know what my competitive plans will be for the 2012 season, but surely, considering my skills, the Giro d’Italia, Tour de France and Vuelta Espana are three important events.

“Meanwhile, as I look at the route I can say that it will definitely be a very beautiful, very challenging Giro. There are really a lot of climbs distributed throughout the three weeks of the race. Duran, Giau, Manghen, Alpe di Pampeano, Mortirolo and Stelvio are climbs that I don't know very well but which I know are all spectacular and gruelling. I think that as always it will be these great mountains that decide the outcome of the race.”

Riis gave a thumbs up to the general course, and also more specifically to the fact that it will start in his hometown. “I think the route is complete in terms of the variety,” he said. “We have steep slopes to climb and no less than three time trials. In recent years, we've seen the GC of the big tours are being decided on the final stages. I'm very content about the route and I'm looking so much forward to start the race in Herning next year.”

The first two stages will be held in that area of Denmark; the first of those is an 8.7 kilometre time trial, while the second is a flat 206 kilometre road race. Both start and finish in Herning.

“I'm really happy that Denmark once again will be the centre of the cycling universe,” said Riis, referring additionally to the fact that this year’s world championships were held there. “I'm certainly proud that it all begins in my home town of Herning. The first days in Denmark will be difficult as the weather and especially the wind might play a major and perhaps crucial role for the GC.

“It would be less than intelligent to underestimate the danger of those stages and I think the wind might surprise the peloton. But also the small narrow roads and small climbs around Horsens might cause difficulties for some riders.”

More reactions about the Giro route are expected to come in time. The route looks a little less extreme than this year’s and that, plus a reduced distance for transfers, should mean slightly fresher riders and a major showdown in the final week of the race.

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