By Gregor Brown
Barloworld Team Manager Claudio Corti will bring his team to the Giro d'Italia with the goal of meeting both the ambitions of individual riders as well as the squad as a whole. The Italian will seek stage wins while at the same time keeping the maglia rosa in sight of riders like Enrico Gasparotto and Colombian Mauricio Soler.
Barloworld's best hope for the maglia rosa in the first week comes with Gasparotto, who wore the jersey after last year's team time trial when he rode with Liquigas. In order to repeat that feat, the team has put in specific training for Saturday's team time trial in Palermo.
"We were in Brescia, Friday and Saturday, we were training in particular for the team time trial," Corti told Cyclingnews. However, he doesn't expect the pink jersey to come on the first stage, but perhaps later in the week. "We will aim for [Enrico] Gasparotto on the stages that are adapted to his characteristics. The maglia rosa has to come on its own, we will not race for it. We will try to have the best team time trial and then defend what advantages we have."
Corti's focus in the first week will be "to organise the team well, manage the race well," and his organisational skills will be central to the team's success not just in the early part of the race, but also in the demanding and mountainous third week.
"The first week is demanding and Gasparotto does well in these stages with variations – he can go for a result. If the maglia rosa arrives – via time bonuses, etcetera – that is good, but it is not an objective that we are starting with. If we don't take the maglia rosa in the first week it is not a disaster."
After the first and second week, Corti will look to Soler, winner of the 2007 Tour de France's mountains competition, to fulfill the squad's ambitions.
"We have to manage the central stages well and then we hope for the best with Soler in the last week, in the mountains. The maglia rosa for Soler? It is a matter of managing the team well and after, if the mountains go well, we can have a good result in the overall classification."
Two English riders, Geraint Thomas and Steve Cummings, will help form the team's nine-man Giro roster and provide strong engines for the team time trial. "They are two important riders for the first week and, above all, for the team time trial in Palermo. I expect a lot of them," Corti commented. "They are participating because they are great riders and it also fits well into their preparations for the Olympics. [The Giro] serves as a great base for the Olympics, while, at the same time, they are working for the team. Thomas, for example, won't do the Tour as he has to focus specifically for the Olympics."
The nine men – Mauricio Soler, Enrico Gasparotto, Francesco Bellotti , Felix Cárdenas, Christian Pfannberger, Patrick Calcagni, Steve Cummings, Carlo Scognamiglio and Geraint Thomas – board a plane this afternoon in Bergamo that will take them to Italy's south for the start of the race.