Cervélo's Daniel Lloyd will start his second Giro d'Italia on Saturday ready to support Carlos Sastre's ambitions of overall victory at the three-week race. The Briton will head to the Netherlands on Wednesday, where he will make final preparations for what will be the second Grand Tour of his career.
"I'm looking forward to it. I haven't raced for about four of five weeks, I've just been training, but you've got the Giro on your mind the whole time and I'm ready to go," Lloyd told Cyclingnews on Tuesday.
This year's Giro will be the second successive appearance at the race for the 29-year-old. In contrast to his measured preparations for the event this season, his debut in 2009 came after a last minute call-up and followed a bout of illness which saw him start the race short of form.
"Last year's lead up was atrocious. I came in as a last minute replacement. I'd been sick at Amstel and had to take ten days off the bike. The team said 'take your time to recover', but then Hayden Roulston was injured and I got called into the squad," he said. "I was nervous because it was my first Grand Tour, but secondly because I was in some of the worst form of my career. This year I'm a lot better prepared."
Cervélo will head to the Giro with the sole focus of supporting Carlos Sastre's bid to improve his third placing overall at last year's race. Lloyd is again aiming to protect the Spaniard on the flatter sections of the course, but with his vastly improved preparation is also hoping to prove his ability in the mountains.
"I'll play a similar role to last year when Jeremy Hunt and I were looking after Carlos on all the flatter stages," he said. "Carlos says he's up for it and this is his first big objective of the year, so he'll be our out-and-out leader.
"From my own perspective I'm hoping to see whether I can get over the climbs with the front group of 60-70 riders, rather than just slipping back into the first grupetto. Since I've joined the team I haven't really had the opportunity to prove I can get over the climbs, but if I can do that at the Giro they might save me until later in the stages."
For Sastre, the Giro will be just his third race start of the season. Despite the light programme adopted by the Cervélo captain, Lloyd said Sastre's past record is enough to ensure the team will start the race with the requisite motivation.
"Carlos is feeling good. He hasn't raced much since the Tour de France last year, but he's very experienced. He's fit at the moment and if he says this is an objective I'm willing to do everything I can to help," said Lloyd.
He acknowledged that the team's single-minded focus at the Giro could be risky, but that, equally, the strategy could pay off in spades.
"It's a bit of a gamble and anything could happen - Carlos could crash or get injured in the first couple of days. But sometimes when you head to a tour with two leaders, riders might hold back a bit, knowing that they might have to lead out one day and then turn around to support the GC-guy the next day. With one leader, you can concentrate your efforts a bit more," he said.
"But Carlos wouldn't have named it as a goal if he weren't up for it."