By Jean-François Quénet in Spoleto
For Luis Felipe Laverde, the Giro d'Italia is nothing new. He already won a stage last year in Domodossola, but nothing since. "I try to win everywhere, but if I could make a choice it would be this one for sure: a win at the Tour of Italy, it's the best I can do", he said. Since he rides for Panaria which wasn't invited to the Tour de France, the Colombian rider has the pink race in mind, something he has aimed at since he turned pro with Formaggi Trentini in 2002 under the guidance of Stefano Giuliani. Giuliani was happy to meet him again at the start of Tivoli today.
Laverde had prepared for his move long before the start of the stage. "The breakaway was born in my head two days ago and scheduled for today," he commented. "Last year I got a beautiful win because it was the first one, today it's beautiful as well because I confirm it." He didn't sprint against Marco Pinotti because the deal between the two was clear: the stage for the Colombian, the pink jersey for the Italian.
Pinotti didn't want to repeat the bad experience he had at the Tour of Romandie just before the Giro where he bet it all on both aims and then didn't win the stage and missed out on the leader's jersey by just four seconds. "I trusted Pinotti," Laverde said. I've raced a lot with him but I never spoke with him. I didn't have any doubt that he would respect his words."
Laverde is proud to say that he has won the stage of the Terminillio, one of the Giro's famous climbs. He also got the maglia Verde (the green jersey) of the king of the mountains. "But it will be very difficult to keep it", he admitted. "I'd like to because my idol was Lucho Herrera."
Laverde hails from Medellin. "It's a big city of two million people, maybe not what you imagine. It's a beautiful town, I have it in my heart. When I go out on my bike, at 1,600 meters of altitude, I usually cover 20 to 30 kilometres of climbing during a single training ride, but if there is 50 to do, I cope with it."
"I'm in Europe for work, he said. When I'll complete my career, I'll go back to Colombia." With maybe more than two stage wins of the Giro in his bag…