By Antonio J. Salmerón
Saunier Duval climber Iban Mayo can only see the Giro d'Italia being won by one of two riders: his team-mate and two-time Giro champ Gilberto Simoni or 2004 winner Damiano Cunego. "My favourites are really just two, Simoni or Cunego," Mayo told EFE Radio. "There are others such as Danilo Di Luca and Yaroslav Popovych, but they're not at the same competitive level."
Mayo's official role at the Giro is to help Simoni gain a third overall victory, but the featherweight Spaniard inevitably has his sights on the mountain stages for some individual glory. "I have freedom," he said. "I'm thinking of the high mountains. In Briançon [stage 12] I usually do well, but also the Zoncolan climb is very hard - it's a mountain even harder than those of the Tour de France."
As for the uphill finish to Montevergine Di Mercogliano on stage 4, Mayo doesn't consider it one for the pure climbers like himself. "If you take into account its past winners, you will realise that they are good climbers, but also powerful sprinters," he said. "Riders such as Di Luca, Bettini, Pellizotti or Riccó are all possible winners, although it will be a very difficult task because many Italians want a victory there."