Thomas Löfkvist (Team Sky) will lead the British team at the Giro d’ Italia where he will be hoping to finally stamp his authority as a grand tour contender. The 26-year-old finished second in the 2004 Tour de l’ Avenir and has shown flashes of promise since, with 18th in last year’s Tour and several days leading the 2009 Giro.
“I’ll go there as good as I can be but I think I have to just wait and see how the race pans out. I would like to be a grand tour rider,” Löfkvist told Cyclingnews.
This year’s Giro has been marked as one of the hardest in recent years and suited to pure climbers, and although Löfkvist doesn’t fit that exact mould, he is confident that he can seize his opportunity.
Last season he was Sky’s best rider on GC at the Tour de France, despite entering the race as a lieutenant for Bradley Wiggins. A chance at the Vuelta later that year was offererd to him but tragic circumstances and the death of Txema Gonzalez, a team soigneur, saw the entire team pull out in a mark of respect.
“The aim was to do a good Vuelta last year but because of the circumstances last year that didn’t happen, so I guess that you could say with the full back up, this will be the first real shot. But on the other hand, at last year's Tour I had great support and back up there,” he said.
Sky have yet to announce their full line up for the Giro, but with Wiggins skipping the race to focus on a more traditional Tour de France build up, Löfkvist will look for support from the rest of the team. However, he is keen to point out that the team will have other goals than just his GC ambitions, adding that he doesn’t need an entire team around him for three weeks of racing.
“The team isn’t fully set yet but there’ll be some strong climbers there, but they’re not just going to lock in on me for GC, the other riders will have their opportunities. I’ll need some support in the mountains and on the flats but I don’t need eight guys sitting around me looking at me.”
“From what I’ve seen though, the route seems really, really hard but everyone has to do it and it depends on how they want to ride.
“I was pleased with my personal performance in last year’s Tour and as an indication; I got through the three weeks without having one really bad day where I lost a lot of time, so it was a big step forward for me.”