Stefano Garzelli: “I make no secret that my obsession is with the Giro d’Italia”
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Monday, November 28, 2011

Stefano Garzelli: “I make no secret that my obsession is with the Giro d’Italia”

by Ben Atkins at 2:28 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Giro d'Italia
 
2000 Corsa Rosa winner focussed on chasing stages in 2012

stefano garzelliStefano Garzelli is currently preparing for his sixth season with Acqua & Sapone, and his sixteenth in the top echelons of the pro peloton. In an interview with tuttobiciweb.it, the 38-year-old outlined his plans for what could be his final year at this level, ahead of his team’s first get together in Chieti, in the Abruzzo region of central Italy.

Although the veteran from Varese will undoubtedly have other aspirations throughout the year, his main target will be – as usual – his national tour.

"I'll try to get a good start early in the season,” said Garzelli, “because, over the years, I’ve realised that it’s better to maintain good form rather than having to chase it. I make no secret though, that my obsession is the Giro d’Italia. It’s what I love most of all, and it’s what I will focus all of my preparation on."

Assuming his team – which will hold Professional Continental status once again in 2012 – receives an invitation to the race, Garzelli will be making his fourteenth Giro start in Herning, Denmark, next May. Having ridden the race that many times, even though he has not managed to finish them all, the veteran knows how to approach his training in order to get himself there in the right condition.

"I want to get there 100% ready, that's why I’ve already started with my first specific work,” he explained. “I'm lucky enough to be able to get in shape quickly, so I don’t exclude the possibility of being able to do something good in the spring; the season in which I’ve always been strong. Already, at the Tirreno-Adriatico, the team will be competitive and I will try to produce something. But, I repeat, my training is aimed at participation in the Giro.”

With an almost entirely flat opening week, which includes a prologue and a team time trial, as well as a transfer from Denmark to Italy, there is very little for a climber like Garzelli in the early part of the Giro. As the race heads south though, the 38-year-old will find greater opportunities.

“At the beginning of the second week there are some nervous stages,” he explained, “Medium mountains; on paper very suitable for me and for those who, like me, want to try something.

“I think, for example, the 7th stage, finishing in Rocca di Cambio,” he continued, “or the next one, finishing in Lago Laceno; or even the 10th, finishing in Assisi. These are certainly stages for attackers, and those who try to enliven the race.

“And then, depending on how the race is unfolding, it may present opportunities or possible attacks in the third week."

Having previously served as a mountain domestique to Marco Pantani, Garzelli won the race in 2000. He was leading the race two years later when a positive test for the diuretic Probenicid saw him disqualified and banned for nine months; he returned in 2003 to briefly lead the race, and finish second overall. Since then, the rider from Varese has concentrated on winning stages and chasing mountain jersey points.

"Arriving in the form that I hope to achieve, I could probably finish in the top ten...” he said, “but who remembers who came 5th or 6th at the Giro? I myself don’t remember the classification lower than the podium.

“To win a stage though, has a particular flavour, and remains in the memory of everyone! Then, of course, there may be other objectives such as the hypothetical green jersey... Well see how it’s going at the time.”

As a team in the sport’s second division, Acqua & Sapone will have very little pressure on their shoulders to try to influence the race. Garzelli, like everybody else, knows that it is the big Italian WorldTour teams that will be expected to take control.

"From what I read, Lampre [with Michele Scarponi] and Liquigas [with Ivan Basso and Vincenzo Nibali] are likely to have the weight of the race on their shoulders but I think that the Giro will be harder to manage than in recent years,” Garzelli explained. “This of course will be to the benefit of teams like Acqua & Sapone, who like to attack and chase stages."

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