By Tim Maloney, European Editor In Milano
After the gala presentation of the 2005 Giro d'Italia, Cyclingnews had time to round-up an antipasti of comments from a wide range of racers, former racers and expert observers. Avv. Carmine Castellano, who will pass the reins of the Giro to Angelo Zomegnan, has put together his final Giro and proudly said that, "I like this Giro...it's a Giro for a complete rider and even on easier days like Stage 3 to Giffoni, there are difficulties.
2004 winner Damiano Cunego gushed, "The Giro is a beautiful course; it's good for climbers and I think it's good for me on paper but now I have to check it out close up." As for the ongoing friction with his teammate Gibo Simoni, who was at the Jacob's Creek Tour Down Under in Australia, Cunego explained that for now, a truce was in place."Our relationship is good and we should ride as allies. We have a strong team and the same objective."
For his part, CSC's Ivan Basso was positive as well about the 2005 Giro course. "I hope to do even better than last time I rode the Giro 5 years ago; I've have done three Tours (de France) since...my challenge will be to find the same level of fitness as the Tour more than beat Cunego." 2000 Giro winner Stefano Garzelli will lead the Liquigas squad in the Giro and the likeable rider from Varese wants another Giro win. "I hope to win the Giro; because it's my main objective of the 2005 season."
Discovery Channel's Paolo Savoldelli braved potential back slappers at the Giro presentation and despite his recently broken collarbone, was upbeat and realistic about his Giro chances. "Yes, now I've had three crashes in the last year and I really hope they're over! So I'll start riding rollers in a few days and hope to get back on the road in a few weeks. My favourite is Ivan Basso and as for my chances, I hope to be in top shape in May."
RAI-TV colour commentator Silvio Martinello observed that, "The Giro looks easier at beginning this year, with more climbing at the end. But watch out for the stage finish in l'Aquilia." Maurizio Fondriest explained that "This Giro is a top level race and people will be are looking for a big battle between Cunego and Basso, but don't forget the old men like Simoni, Garzelli...plus foreign riders." 1990 Giro winner Gianni Bugno thought that "this Giro is very difficult, with plenty of hard climbing...it will be good for our Italian climbers."
1955 Giro d'Italia winner Fiorenzo Magni explained that, "This is an interesting Giro that goes all through the peninsula and looks to me to be a classic race." Another veteran observer, Felice Gimondi evaluated the Giro course by saying, "The first week is going to be harder and more nervous than it looks. I like the Stelvio...in my first Giro, I was third when we raced the Stelvio and there was a little landslide near the top so we had to stop. Plus there could be snow up there!"