Liberty without a leader

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Spanish team Liberty has sent a versatile squad to the 89th Giro d'Italia. Starting on Saturday in Seraing, the riders have gathered in Southern Belgium on Wednesday, training in fine weather conditions. While the team directed by Marino Lejarreta might not have an ultimate leader in the upcoming Grand Tour, Lejarreta is still hopeful that his riders will achieve some good results.

The team "has a bit of everything, young riders and people with experience," according to the directeur sportif. "We do not have a clear leader to go for the victory, but on the other hand we have several riders with possibilities. For Scarponi, Unai Osa and Caruso, the challenge will be to fight for a place on the podium. It will be tough, but they have a lot of ambitions."

Lejarreta looks forward to the race. "The last week of mountains will be terribly hard," he continued. "In general it is a race for climbers, although there are the time trials to compensate a bit. On top of that, there are very few stages for sprinters, which is an abnormal thing in the Giro. It will be an interesting race, pretty open - breaks might be important."

Nevertheless, just like other team directors, Lejarreta feels that the organisers have put too hard passages in the parcours. "It's excessive," he said. "We can't tell for sure until we're there, but on the paper it is excessive. It was not necessary to include stages like stage 17, with a finish in a ski resort with ramps of 25 percent, which could create technical problems for the riders."

In any case, Lejarreta is not certain that the overall winner will be one of the pre-race favourites. "There are Basso, Cunego, Simoni, Di Luca or Savoldelli as favourites, but they are the candidates at the start," he added. "There is no doubt that with that hard a third week, there will be surprises every day. Like last year when Basso had to let go event though it seemed that he was winning easy - this year that can happen to everybody. It will not be possible to know the winner until the very end, except if the weather is too bad to do any of these stages."

The full team rosters for the Giro d'Italia can be found here - the start lists will be updated accordingly until the beginning of the race.

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