Igor Anton heading into the Giro with no pressure, but hoping for a stage win
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Thursday, May 05, 2011

Igor Anton heading into the Giro with no pressure, but hoping for a stage win

by Jered Gruber at 12:46 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Giro d'Italia
 
A stage win would be Euskaltel-Euskadi's first ever at the Italian Grand Tour

Euskaltel's leader, Igor Anton, has been touted by many as an outside hope for the overall win at the end of May in the Giro d'Italia, which starts on Saturday in Venaria-Reale. The 28 year old, however, is quick to remove any pressure from his shoulders.

"The goal is to win a stage. I do not think of the general classification - I think it's best to take it day by day. In that sense, I will not fray my nerves with the finishes of the first week - I won't worry about losing some time in the early days. I don't want to waste it, but I'm not obsessed with time and the pressure not to yield any. If I lose a minute in a complicated finish, nothing happens. The aim is to arrive in good condition to the last week, then fight for a stage.

Anton's words sound like those of a rider who is putting all of his eggs in the basket of the year's final Grand Tour, the Vuelta a España. His bid for overall Vuelta glory came to a cruel end two thirds of the way through last year's edition in an unfortunate crash. He confirms that he'll take a fair bit of pressure with him into this year's Vuelta.

"Looking ahead to the Vuelta, there will be pressure not to concede any time, but the Giro is different. I want to have fun and enjoy a race that is going to be spectacular, but riders are going to make this difficult."

While his overall dreams rest in his national tour later this year, the idea of a stage win appeals to the ever improving rider. A stage win would also make history for his orange clad Basque team.

"For me, it would be a leap in quality [to win a stage]. It would be the first victory in the history of Euskaltel-Euskadi in the history of the Giro. It's a nice challenge."

For Anton, who has a third overall at the Vuelta a Castilla y Leon and a 5th place at La Fleche Wallonne to his credit so far this season, this Giro will be his second trip to the Tour of Italy - the first one was his first Grand Tour, five years ago.

"The Giro was the first three week Grand Tour that I raced as a newcomer at 22 years old. I suffered a lot, but I fell in love and saw that I could make my way in the world of cycling."

As one would expect, Anton will return to Italy a very different rider, a rider that could fight for the overall if he chooses, and a rider that could certainly target a stage or the mountains jersey.

"This will be my second try, but this could be considered my first, as six years have passed, and much has changed since that distant 2005 edition. I have participated in about ten Grand Tours. I have more experience."

With Anton's unquestioned abilities uphill, a stage win would seem a fair bet, but the young rider is still hesitant - fair enough, as the field assembled for the upcoming Giro is one of the more impressive we've seen in quite some time.

"The truth is that there is a list of the world's best, possibly the best in recent years. Alberto Contador is the king of the Grand Tours in recent years. Vincenzo Nibali won the Vuelta last year, as well as taking third in the Giro while riding in support of his teammate, Basso. Then there's Menchov, Scarponi, Cunego, Purito Rodriguez…and Kreuziger, who I think will be in the mix as well. There are teams like Colnago and Androni, who always impress. There are many ingredients to make a very exciting race. It will be hard to beat the Italians. They are all highly motivated to win a stage, but it's not an impossible goal to fight for it."

The rider, who hails from Galdakao in the Basque Country, certainly got a feel for Grand Tour stage wins at last year's Vuelta. He took two impressive wins before crashing out in Stage 14 with the leader's jersey on his back. If Anton's results from the last month are any hint, we can expect the Basque rider to factor heavily in the race, despite his own protestations. 

 

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