Having been awarded the 2011 Giro d'Italia in a courtroom following Alberto Contador's doping sanction earlier this year, Lampre-ISD's Michele Scarponi is desperate to win his homeland's most iconic race on the road this year.
The 32-year-old from Ancona in Italy has made stealthy progress through the general classification over the opening eight stages of the race, and he remains the favourite to walk away with the pink jersey on May 27 according to Danilo Di Luca, who has also been impressed with the form shown by yesterday's stage winner Domenico Pozzovivo (Colnago). But Scarponi's display in stage seven, when he was narrowly defeated by Paolo Tiralongo after a lung-bursting surge up the final Rocca di Cambio climb, has convinced Di Luca that Scarponi might get his hands on the Giro trophy once again.
"Pozzovivo has done a great number and with the Giro this year, with a few trial and uphill finishes so important, I think he can do a good ranking," said Di Luca, who won the 2007 Giro but is absent from this year's renewal after his Acqua & Sapone team weren't given a wildcard invitation, in Radio Sport.
"But from what we saw on the Rocca di Cambio, I think the favorite to win the race is still Scarponi. I see him motivated and with a strong team behind him. He is very determined to win the Giro again, this time on the road."