Mixed feelings at Liquigas

Expectations and hopes for the Tour de France are quite varied for the Italian Liquigas-Bianchi...

Expectations and hopes for the Tour de France are quite varied for the Italian Liquigas-Bianchi team. Three days before the first stage time trial in Fromentine, Garzelli, Cioni, Pellizotti and Bäckstedt have spoken about their aims and ambitions for the Wold's biggest cycling race.

Stefano Garzelli, who abandoned the Giro d'Italia on the difficult mountain stage 13 to Ortisei, has no particular aspirations for this year's Tour de France. "I can't pinpoint a precise objective for this Tour," he said. "I won't be a man for overall classification, since there will be riders who have been training solely for this race while I'm back from abandoning the Giro d'Italia - I will have to perfect my condition during the first week and hope to be competitive in the last eight or nine days."

Dario Cioni, on the other hand, is feeling confident about his form. "After the Giro d'Italia [where he finished 13th - ed.], I feel quite ready. In this phase I've particularly worked my time trialling position," said Cioni, who made a very good appearance at the Italian Time trial Championships, where he placed third. "I've made the final refinements to my form," he concluded.

Tall Swede Magnus Bäckstedt will be lining up in Fromentine feeling especially ambitious. "Every stage in the first week will be like a World Championship to me," he said, explaining, "I haven't won this year yet and I really want to make amends. I've worked hard since Paris-Roubaix, and I felt very good in the team time trial in Eindhoven. I'm quite hopeful."

Finally, Franco Pellizotti feels confident especially since his teammate Garzelli will also participate, which he sees as an asset in the mountains. "The presence of Garzelli makes me serene: we will help each other," he said. "If I win one stage, it will already be a wonderful Tour. If I achieve a good overall result, even better!"

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