Australian willing to trade mountain jersey for leader's jersey
Matt Lloyd (Omega Pharma-Lotto) has set his sights on another strong ride in the Giro d'Italia and is dreaming of making a bid for the maglia rosa in 2011. The Australian won a stage and the mountains jersey in 2010, featuring in a number of key stages. He finished the race in 50th place overall, over two hours down on winner Ivan Basso (Liquigas).
However, the Australian has already discussed the possibility of racing for GC with his Belgian team.
"Whether it's about trying to replicate the green jersey success or to go for different things and try for something bigger and better; it's something I have looked at. If the possibility arises, and it seems to be a good course to try and be part of the GC, then Id' be more than happy to do so. The team have been supportive of the idea," Lloyd told Cyclingnews.
"To change the jersey from green to pink isn't an easy thing to do but I'm going to try and put it together. I don't see a reason why we can't give it a crack. It will be fun to at least try and see how far I can push myself. If you don't try then you'll never know."
Lloyd had one of his best seasons on record this year, along with his success in the Giro he was a key part of Jurgen Van Den Broeck's strong GC ride at the Tour de France and he stamped his authority as one of the strongest climbers on the world circuit. Next year the team could be one of the most competitive squads in the ProTeam ranks, after signing several reinforcements, including Andre Greipel, while the likes of Adam Blythe have started to blossom.
"It was a fantastic year and one to be really proud of for all the guys on the team," Lloyd said.
"I think we've got one of the strongest teams we've had in a while. When I stared in the team we had Robbie McEwen and he had the name and kudos to back himself wherever he went. But Philippe Gilbert has really taken that mantle on his shoulders and VDB has been stepping things up at every race."
Lloyd spent time during last year's off-season in the UK training with Blythe and according to the Australian the former British Cycling Academy rider has all the attributes to compete with the best sprinters if he is given time to grow and develop.
"I could tell straight away that even though he's chilled out he's got the class on the bike that you see in riders like Oscar Friere. I said to everyone that he was one of the sprinters that we would have to watch out for and at the end of the season he started to show that but still remained really relaxed about it. It's going to be interesting to see him continue to grow in the future. He can be as strong as anyone else on the sprinting scene."
However, for Lloyd the 2011 season is about the Giro, a race that he holds dear.
"I love the race, its characteristics and its personality. It's one of those events that I've always had an ambition to feature in and this year it enabled me to focus on that more than usual. That stage win came at a really good time. It worked out perfectly and in terms of a career win it's really special. It was something that I'd planned on and had my eyes on for a couple of years. It all came into place."
Lloyd is currently in Italy, finalising the purchase of a house. He will return to Australia at the start of December in order to train in warmer climates. It will mean missing Lotto's training camp but his employers understand that his hectic racing schedule that the off-season is the only time he can travel home.
"I've never actually been to an off-season camp with the team before. They're pretty understanding about the fact that being away from family and friends is quite different to other European riders. Also the fact that they know that training, due to the weather is a lot easier to do."
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