By Shane Stokes in Mallorca
Axel Merckx and Victor Hugo Pena are other Phonak riders who are considering the Giro/Tour double in 2006. "My plan is to be in good shape for the classics such as Liège-Bastogne-Liège, then carry that form into the Giro," said the former. "I would like to be going well, especially with the race starting in Belgium. I'd then like to go to the Tour with a view to helping Floyd and Santi (Santiago Botero) in the race."
Merckx moved to Phonak from Davitamon Lotto this winter. He's happy with his move. "Things are good here, the team is very professionally run," he said. "There is also a good atmosphere between the riders and also with team management."
"I have known John Lelangue for a long time as his father was involved in my own father's bike factory. We grew up together. I always wanted to work with John in cycling but it was only last year when he became involved in a team. When he asked me to join this squad I was very happy to do so."
Victor Hugo Pena said that he made his mind up to race in Italy several months ago. "We had a training camp right after the season when we were able to decide on our programme for this year," he stated. "I decided that I wanted to try to be in my best possible shape for the Giro, then go to the Tour to help out the leaders in that race. I will put everything towards riding a good Tour of Italy. I think I will have the opportunity to have a team built around Axel, Floyd and me. I will then have the opportunity to see how I get on, what I can achieve.
"I don't know how I will do, whether I will be 20th or top five, but I will aim to do my best there. I am fully recovered from my crash last year and got a good winter in."