Evans impressed by Giro climbs, checks out course with rivals
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Friday, April 30, 2010

Evans impressed by Giro climbs, checks out course with rivals

by Conal Andrews at 5:54 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Giro d'Italia
 

World champion Cadel Evans has expressed his respect for the mountains of the Giro d’Italia, where he will aim to win his first Grand Tour. The BMC Racing rider has been checking out some of the climbs of this year’s race, riding the Zoncolan on Wednesday and then yesterday tracing the path of the 12.85 kilometre time trial which will be used on stage sixteen. That will take the riders from San Vigilio di Marebbe to the top of the Plan de Corones, which tops out 2273 metres above sea level.

"The mountains of the Giro are sharper and steeper than those of the Tour,” said Evans, according to La Gazzetta dello Sport. “They made an incredible impression on me.”

Also checking out the slopes were last year’s third-place finisher Franco Pellizotti (Liquigas), who went on to take the King of the Mountains jersey in the Tour de France, Michele Scarponi (Androni Giocattoli) and former double winner, Gilberto Simoni (Lampre – Farnese Vini).

Evans started the climb with the other riders but pushed hard to the summit and reached it a minute ahead of Pellizotti and Scarponi, and two up on Simoni. He said afterwards that he was in very good shape. “I’m much better than in previous years…I’m happy with my condition. I’m 100% focussed on the Giro d’Italia.”

Pellizotti will most likely be one of Evans’ strongest challengers this time round, together with his team-mate Ivan Basso, and said that he is also in good condition. “I lost a kilo since last year and this will be a major advantage in a Giro that has many difficult climbs. I’m going for the podium.”

As for Scarponi and Simoni, their expectations are different. Scarponi will target a high finish, but doesn’t see himself as a contender for the final win. “The goal is to be in the top five,” he said. He will however target this uphill test. “I’m strong at climbing. I’ve a good time trial, so it’s Plan de Corones for me.” He won two stages in 2009.

Simoni was one of the most feared climbers for many years but now it is he who is frightened. He was unhappy with his showing in the Giro del Trentino and even now, just over a week away from the start of the race, is undecided about whether or not he will ride his farewell event.

Directeur sportif Fabrizio Bontempi will give him the weekend to mull things over. “There’s a place on the team there for him,” he said. “We will decide by Monday.”

Pellizotti won the Plan de Corones time trial in 2008, beating Simoni into third place. Cadel Evans is returning to the Giro d’Italia eight years after leading the race.

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