Michele Scarponi (Lampre-ISD) enters the record books as the victor of the 2011 Giro d’Italia following Alberto Contador’s suspension, but he has admitted that he does not feel like the winner of the race.
The Italian was promoted to first place after the Court of Arbitration for Sport ruled that all of the results earned by Contador since his positive test for clenbuterol at the 2010 Tour de France should be expunged.
“You celebrate wins on the road, with the flowers, the podium girls and the people. On that day, at the Duomo in Milan, with the national anthem and a blue sky,” Scarponi told Gazzetta dello Sport. “Being awarded first place afterwards doesn’t bring emotions, it’s a statistic.”
Scarponi fended off the challenge of Vincenzo Nibali (Liquigas-Cannondale) to claim the second step of the podium last May, but he pointed out that had Contador not been in the Giro, the complexion of their private duel could well have been altered.
“It would have been another race, another story,” Scarponi said. “And maybe I wouldn’t even have won it. The battle with Nibali for second place was exciting, but who’s to say it would have been for first?”
While Scarponi acknowledged Contador’s superiority on the road at the 2011 Giro, he revealed that he continued to harbour hopes of overall victory right up until the third week of the race.
“Deep down, I was hopeful,” he said. “I was hoping he’d have a bad day and I’d have a marvellous one. We’re not always the same every day and on every road. And I tried, a Macugnaga, on the Grossglockner, on the Zoncolan.”
Scarponi has to decide if he will return to the Giro d’Italia in 2012, and the 32-year-old admitted he is tempted by the possibility of testing himself at the Tour de France.
“The Giro is the race I love, because the Italy of the Giro is much more beautiful than the Italy you see every day on the television,” he said. “If I don’t ride it, I wouldn’t defend my title, but I don’t feel that title is mine.
“The Tour is the Super Bowl, Oscar night, the heavyweight world title fight at Caesar’s Palace. I’m in love with the Giro, and I’m fascinated by the Tour.”
With Damiano Cunego already touted to combine the classics with the Tour de France, Lampre-ISD may well look to Scarponi to lead the line at the Giro, but he will not make his decision until after Tirreno-Adriatico in March. “The calendar of the rest of the team depends on my choice,” Scarponi pointed out.
Scarponi gets his 2012 campaign underway on Sunday at the GP Lugano over the border in Switzerland.