Geox TMC tries to take positives from Giro d’Italia performance
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Wednesday, June 01, 2011

Geox TMC tries to take positives from Giro d’Italia performance

by VeloNation Press at 6:56 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Giro d'Italia
 
Regrets Duarte’s withdrawal, not satisfied with Sastre

Sastre MenchovThe Geox TMC team ended the Giro d’Italia with just one top three stage placing and eighth overall in the race, falling short of its goal of contenting for the overall victory. The team has not been selected for the Tour de France and was seeking to prove a point in the first Grand Tour of the cycling calendar.

However, despite being unable to achieve that, team manager Mauro Gianetti insists that he took some satisfaction from the performance. “This is a good result that shows how solid the team is,” he said.

“Clearly, Menchov and the team had other ambitions as they started out from Turin. Anybody who has worn the pink jersey, as he has, certainly won’t be happy with a top ten placement. Anyway, on the inside of the team Denis has shown himself to be a serious professional and an example for all his team mates. In a particularly hard Giro d’Italia that probably wasn’t perfectly suited to his skills, Denis managed to keep up with the best, closing out among the first ten riders in the general classification.”

Former world under 23 champion Fabio Duarte was the only rider to take a top three finish on a stage, with the Colombian netting second on stage five to Orvieto. Gianetti rues the fact that he had to pull out, and clearly feels the race could have been different had he been there.

“Our greatest regret is that we lost our young Colombian Fabio Duarte after only a few stages,” he said. “He was forced to drop out due to a knee problem caused by a fall. During the season Fabio always stood out as one of the best in the climbs. Right before the Giro he garnered an important win in the Giro del Trentino and in the first uphill arrival in this Giro, the one in Orvieto after the difficult stage on “white roads”, he came in second.

“I’m sure that Fabio would have been a great help for Menchov and on the hard climbs of this Giro he could have carved out a role for himself, aiming for a stage victory and playing for the white jersey for the best young rider. Now it’s important that Fabio recovers from this injury as best he can and as soon as possible.”

Assessment of Sastre and Menchov:

Gianetti is less pleased with the performance of Carlos Sastre, who won two stages in the 2009 edition of the Giro.

“Unfortunately Carlos didn’t meet our expectations,” he admits. “[That’s] perhaps due to health problems he suffered over the winter which kept him from racing so he could have made it to the Giro d’Italia in better shape physically. The fact remains that we were expecting a lot more from a rider like him. He has always been able to stand out as a contender in all the major stage races in which he’s participated throughout his career, so he himself can’t be happy with this performance.”

Sastre won the Tour de France in 2008 but apart from his Giro performance the following season, he hasn’t ridden to his previous high level. Last autumn he said that he was under too much pressure at Cervélo Test Team and was looking forward to a fresh start with Geox TMC. However thus far, things haven’t clicked.

He had a bad chest infection earlier this year and while that undoubtedly disrupted his preparation for the Giro, Gianetti’s dissatisfaction appears clear. The team will miss the Tour de France and instead will spend July preparing for the Vuelta a España; Sastre will be expected to ride strongly there.

He’s happier with Menchov’s performance, even if the rider didn’t fight for victory as he had done in 2009. “Without a doubt this was a very selective Giro for all the riders. If you consider that although Menchov didn’t have any very bad days, he did have some hard times on Etna, Grossglockner and on the stage with the uphill finish in Gardeccia during the gruelling Dolomite super-stages, and these inevitably compromised his chances in the battle for the final podium.

“However Menchov proved his worth when he arrived with the best during the daunting climb on Zoncolan and as he battled it out to the end in the stage at Sestriere, where he risked everything to shoot for an attack on the last climb in this Giro. Menchov specializes in races against the time and in the final time trial he was hoping to improve his position in the standings; unfortunately, things didn’t turn out like he wanted.

“The final time trial in a great Giro is always particular, and perhaps he was feeling the strain of the effort he put in during the last week of major climbs.”

The team was yesterday confirmed as one of four wildcards for the Vuelta a España. With the Tour de France a no go this year, that race will be of prime importance to the team for two reasons. Firstly, winning the Vuelta would satisfy the sponsors, who had expected the team would be in the Tour. Secondly, it would earn points which will make the push for a ProTeam licence next year all the more possible.

Without a strong performance there, its likely the team will have to go on an expensive buying spree to ensure it has a chance of getting the licence it missed out on this time round. Being overlooked for the Tour de France for the second year in succession would not please the sponsors at all.

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