Caisse d'Epargne aiming for pink

Although Caisse d'Epargne-Illes Balears doesn't contain an overall favourite for the Giro's general...

Although Caisse d'Epargne-Illes Balears doesn't contain an overall favourite for the Giro's general classification, team director Eusebio Unzue believes that his squad has a good chance of securing the maglia rosa - perhaps as early as the prologue. Speaking in Liège before the start of the race, Unzue outlined the team's plans:

"First of all it is important to tell you that we will start with a team that doesn't have a lot of experience in this kind of race, because some of the riders will take part in a big tour for the first time. I am speaking about Efimkin, Fertonani and Erviti, but also of the some other riders who have only taken part in one major stage race before. That's why I say that the team is quite inexperienced, with no leader for doing well in the overall ranking. But on the other hand I am sure my guys will be able to go in the breakaways and go for a stage win. I am convinced about that. But first of all we will try to win the short time trial in Seraing with Iván Gutierrez, and in doing so go for the first pink jersey of this Giro too.

What are the chances of Gutierrez winning on Saturday? "Don't forget that in 2004, in Liège, very close to Seraing, Iván Gutierrez finished the third in the prologue of the Tour de France, more or less over the same distance. Of course there is a difference because the course was all flat then, while there will be a short but hard climb on Saturday. But I believe he is in top condition right now. He also knows this is his big opportunity and for us it would be so great to get the first pink jersey of this edition of the Giro."

You said your team will go for stage wins. Is there really no possibility for you to do well in the overall ranking? "Some riders still have to improve in that kind of race and I am sure they will do it. Let's take the example of Fran Perez and Efimkin. I am sure they will be able to do very well in the future, but because of their lack of experience it is not possible to know right now how they will manage with the race this year. Both of them have the qualities such a race asks for, and some day they will do well in the general classification, but for now, before the Giro starts, it is not a main objective. But you never know what can happen in a race so we will wait and see what happen during the first race days and then we may have to change or plans. What is sure is that we will try to win one stage at least."

After Alejandro Valverde's wins in the Ardennes classics, do you see Liège with another view? "What is very particular for us, most than any other thing, is that after 27 years working in professional cycling, with Reynolds at first, and after that with Banesto, and up till now with Caisse d'Epargne – Illes Balears, we tried so hard to win those classics! To win the Flèche Wallonne was already something very beautiful, but the success in Liège-Bastogne-Liège is really so special for us. The first part of our season has been incredible, with regard to the quality of the races we won, but also for the number of wins (17). It is so important to note that nine different riders won all those races."

Caisse d'Epargne – Illes Balears for the Giro: José Luis Carrasco, Vladimir Efimkin, Imanol Erviti, Marco Fertonani, Iván Gutierrez, Joan Horrach, José Cayetano Julia, Fran Perez and Mikel Pradera.

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