Giuseppe Martinelli: “Giro d’Italia course is ideal for Roman Kreuziger”
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Sunday, April 15, 2012

Giuseppe Martinelli: “Giro d’Italia course is ideal for Roman Kreuziger”

by Ben Atkins at 5:49 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Giro d'Italia
 
Seven of nine Astana riders already selected for May’s Corsa Rosa

roman kreuzigerThe course of this year’s Giro d’Italia is ideal for Astana’s Roman Kreuziger, so says his team manager Giuseppe Martinelli. The 25-year-old Czech finished fifth in last year’s race - elevated from sixth after the disqualification of original winner Alberto Contador - and took home the young riders’ white jersey; he’s ready to take the step up to pink on this year’s course, the veteran Italian believes.

“The sixth place of 2011, which then became fifth after the disqualification of Contador, was about right for Roman,” Martinelli told la Gazzetta dello Sport. “The route of the 2012 Giro is even more suited to his characteristics, and the team will be built around him and strong in the climbs.”

With the race just weeks away, Martinelli has the nucleus of the Astana team, but is waiting on performances in the next few races to completely finalise the turquoise and yellow roster.

“Seven of the nine are chosen,” he explained. “The Czech Kreuziger, the Swede [Fredrik] Kessiakof, the Estonian [Tanel] Kangert, the Russian [Evgeni] Petrov, the Belgian [Kevin] Seeldrayers, the Kazakh [Alexsandr] Dyachenko, the Italian [Paolo] Tiralongo.

"The other two riders will be selected after the Giro del Trentino and the Tour de Romandie,” he added. “Among them could be [Simone] Ponzi, who in addition to Trentino also participates in the northern Classics."

Kreuziger has not had a busy season so far, with just the Clasica de Almeria, the Strade Bianche, and Tirreno-Adriatico ridden so far. Sixth on the white roads of Tuscany, and third overall in Tirreno, point towards some strong form however, and are far better than he had achieved in the spring of 2011.

“He’s better than he was a year ago,” said Martinelli. “We have mad a careful approach to the Giro, including the reconnaissance of some of the little-known or never-used climbs. It’s a pity that the weather hasn’t helped; in March it was sunny but the passes were closed; in April they would have been open, but snow forced them to be closed again.”

While Martinelli is confident of the chances of his own rider, he knows which opponents to watch, with the defending champion and a two-time winner at the top of his list.

“The absence of Contador opens things up and offers opportunities to a number of riders,” he said. “The strongest challenger seems to be [Michele] Scarponi, and possibly [Ivan] Basso, who’s had a difficult spring but his path seems to be a photocopy of two years ago.”

In addition to those two, Martinelli identifies one of his own former prodigies as a likely contender for a second victory himself.

“[Damiano] Cunego looked set to do the Tour, but I think he will do the Giro, and could be the wildcard, the loose cannon…” he said.

roman kreuzigerDespite this opposition, Martinelli expects Kreuziger to at least make the final podium in Milan, and possibly even better than that.

“I’ll say that for Roman,” he said. “Who will then skip the Tour and then focus on the Vuelta and the Worlds; victory in the Giro is not a dream.”

Martinelli’s first Giro d’Italia was in 1977, as a rider, and has been present at virtually every race since; directing Marco Pantani, Gilberto Simoni and Cunego to victory in past years. Having taken a good look at this year’s course, the 57-year-old likes what he sees, although he feels that the opening few days will be logistically tough.

“The start in Denmark means a double transfer for everything, there and back,” he said. “But now we have got used to it; the Tour and Vuelta often start in other countries.

“The last day of the Giro will be spectacular,” he thinks. “The key stages will be those of the Stelvio, the Pian dei Resinelli, the Pampeago, and in Cortina; the final time trial in Milan will be important, but not decisive.”

The 2012 Giro d’Italia starts in Herning, central Denmark - the hometown of Saxo Bank manager Bjarne Riis - on Saturday, May 5th, and finishes in Milan on Sunday, May 27th.

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