Riding shotgun for Liquigas-Bianchi
British rider Charly Wegelius has carved himself a solid career as a reliable domestique for Italian teams, but he recently showed a hint of something greater when he finished third on GC at the Vuelta a Aragon. Right now, he's at the Giro supporting Liquigas-Bianchi's triple threat Stefano Garzelli, Dario Cioni and Danilo Di Luca, and - Aragon notwithstanding - that's just how he likes it, as he tells Shane Stokes.
With 2000 champion Stefano Garzelli, Dario Cioni and Danilo Di Luca providing a potential triple-whammy for the general classification, Liquigas-Bianchi heads into this year's Giro as one of the strongest squads in the race. Backing their three captains along the way will be the 27 year old British rider Charly Wegelius, who will use his hill climbing talents to set them up for what the team hopes will be a victorious campaign.
Wegelius took what was probably the best result of his career in the recent Vuelta a Aragon in Spain, finishing second to Comunidad Valenciana's Ruben Plaza in the uphill time trial on day four and ending the 2.1 ranked event third overall. Since then he has prepared methodically for the Giro, completing a tough block of racing in the Giro del Trentino and the Giro dell'Appennino and then training hard and resting well in order to ensure he began the Italian tour in the best possible shape.
Despite Wegelius's good showing in Spain, he remains very much committed to his role as a domestique. "I feel that I have found my space in the sport and I am trying to my job as best as I can," he told Cyclingnews in recent days, stressing that his ride in Aragon wasn't going to change anything. "I didn't think that I was capable of doing a thing like that. Taking a stage race like that would be nice, at some point in the future, but it is not going to change the focus of my career. Winning riders who don't win much are not much good to anybody. But a helper who wins every so often, that is always good."
With that in mind, Wegelius has a clear idea of what he would like to achieve in the sport. "I would like to be part of a team which wins a three-week race. I think for someone who does what I do, that is the biggest thing you can hope for. I'm aiming to achieve something like that."
If things work out as he hopes, Wegelius could achieve that goal sooner rather than later. He pinpoints Simoni, Cunego, Basso and Scarponi as dangerous riders for the Giro, but believes that Liquigas's strong line-up and excellent team spirit could see the team end up on top.
"I think we have a really good chance of winning, precisely because the atmosphere the team is so good," he explains. "Going into a big race with two leaders isn't easy, but it is when you have two people like Garzelli and Cioni. They are both really good riders and they are also really smart. I think the fact that everyone gets on so well is going to be our strongest point when things get hard. Besides, if you look at the line-up that we have got, this is a pretty good team! I think we have got a really good chance."
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