Former under 23 world champion believes team justifies a wild card from Aquarone
Fabio Duarte has called on Giro d’Italia director Michele Acquarone to give Colombia-Coldeportes a chance and invite the team to the 2012 race, with the Colombian confident his team can perform if they are invited to the Italian Grand Tour.
"The most important objective for next year for me will be the Giro. I think I have lots possibilities there, and it’s well suited to my own characteristics as a rider.
"But for now the most important thing is that we get invited - to any of the Grand Tours. I’m confident we can do really well, but we need to be there," Duarte told Cyclingnews.
Duarte came close to a stage win in the 2011 edition of the race on stage 5 when he led home a select group of favourites to take second place behind Pieter Weening. A knee injury derailed much of his 2011 season, but a happier and re-invigorated Duarte now riding for a home team says he’s ready to live up to the potential that saw him win the under 23 world championship in Varese in 2008.
"I had other offers for this year," said Duarte. "Some for more money, - but I decided to come back to Colombia. As a youngster I was inspired by guys like Lucho Herrera. I knew they did well because they were representing Colombia first and foremost.
"I think Colombians are best when we're together. We have to come along way to compete in Europe. Often it's hard for guys to fit it, to adapt to the climate, the culture.
"When Claudio Corti got in contact with me to ride with this new project, it seemed like a perfect opportunity to put Colombia back on the map."
The Colombian added that the project was different than previous attempts by Colombian investors to form teams because it would be based solely in Europe.
"To have a European base, in Italy, with a European staff - we have all the ingredients of a professional European set-up. But we also have a team of only Colombians, it’s like a family, and that can only make us stronger."
Though it may be difficult for Aquarone to justify inviting the Colombia-Coldeportes team to the Giro because of the large number of Italian teams already vying for wild card spots the team is making a strong case, and will be no doubt hard to ignore.
Colombia-Coldeportes is a new professional continental team supported by the national sporting institute Coldeportes.
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