Scarponi ‘full of energy’ heading to the Giro d’Italia
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Tuesday, May 01, 2012

Scarponi ‘full of energy’ heading to the Giro d’Italia

by VeloNation Press at 10:07 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Giro d'Italia
 
Rider named 2011 champion wants to win the race on the road this time

Michele ScarponiWhat do Michele Scarponi, Andy Schleck and Oscar Pereiro have in common? The trio are riders who have won Grand Tours without wearing the leader’s jersey on the final day; they have triumphed through the later disqualification of Alberto Contador from the 2011 Giro and the 2010 Tour, plus the stripping of the 2006 Tour title from Floyd Landis.

History books record them as the winners, yet each rider has stated they believe it’s an unsatisfactory way to be crowned a champion. There’s no big celebrations on the final day of the race, no champagne to spray, no recognition at the time as a winner.

And, in each case, no opportunity to negotiate the following year’s contract on the strength of having stood on the top step of the podium.

The Giro will officially recognize Scarponi with presentation of the Maglia Rosa on Thursday, giving him a little of the ceremony he missed last June. However it’s largely symbolic, and he emphasizes that he’s not satisfied with that alone.

“It will be an appreciated award, a prize for the very good Giro I performed in 2011,” he said. “But I want to feel the emotion of conquering the pink jersey on the road. This target will give me huge motivation for the race.”

Scarponi flies to Denmark later today and thus begins his 2012 Giro project. He’s had a quieter first few months to his year than he did last season, with seventh in Tirreno-Adriatico and eighth in Pais Vasco and Liège being his best results, but is nevertheless confident about his prospects.

“I preferred to start the season in a softer way, in order to be at the top of my form later than I was in 2011,” he explained. “In April I was not so brilliant in some situations, but a very good performance in Liège-Bastogne-Liège indicated to me that I was on the right path.

“You can only be in the head of the race in the Doyenne if your legs are good, so this situation gives me a lot in terms of the Giro target.”

After Liège-Bastogne-Liège, Scarponi trained at home rather than riding the Tour de Romandie. He wanted to work at his own pace and also to ensure that he had the right balance between form and freshness going into the Grand Tour.

He won’t get full feedback as to how he is going until the Giro begins, but he feels he’s done things correctly.

“I'm full of energy,” he said. “I really want to be one of the top protagonists of the race. I know it will be necessary to make huge efforts in order to achieve my top goals, but I'm not scared. I'm ready to do the best.”

Of course, Scarponi’s form is only one part of the equation, albeit a very important one. He’ll also depend on good fortune, as well as the work of his team-mates. He feels that the Lampre-ISD selection is a well-balanced one, and states that he can ‘rely on them in every situation.’

Matteo Bono, Adriano Malori, Przemyslaw Niemiec, Daniele Pietropolli, Daniele Righi, Alessandro Spezialetti and Diego Ulissi will be the riders who he will rely upon, and so too Damiano Cunego.

The latter is more than a domestique, though. The 2004 race winner appears to be in strong form this season, and Scarponi readily admits that he deserves leadership status too.

“I saw him pedaling so well recently that I can guarantee that he'll be an important rider for the team,” he said. “We'll cooperate for our targets. I think we could both be protagonists.”

The duo are strongest on climbs and will make their push for pink there. However the first uphills don’t appear before stage six, and the first summit finish comes one day later; before then, the climbers will have to fend off the time-gaining efforts of others in the opening 8.7 kilometre time trial, in stage five’s team time trial, and the flat second, third and fifth stages.

Scarponi is alert to the danger, recognizing that the win could cause problems, and says he’ll be ready and also avoid unnecessary risk.

If he can remain in contact there, he’ll begin his push forward once the road pitches upwards.

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