An emphatic win in the Ardennes at Flèche Wallonne along with a string of results, many of them achieved under the role of lieutenant to Joaquim Rodríguez, has been enough to convince Katusha sports director Viatcheslav Ekimov that Daniel Moreno should aim for the general classification at the Giro d'Italia. Ekimov is reportedly in the process of trying to sway the Spaniard into riding the Italian grand tour in just a couple of weeks.
"I am still in discussion with him,” said Ekimov on Biciclismo about the possibility of Moreno spear-heading the Russian team at the three-week race.
Moreno has been a consistent finisher in the grand tours of recent years and has done so while supporting outright leader Rodríguez. Moreno has ridden the Giro every year since 2010 and finished 26th, 29th and 20th in each edition since. His captain was second at last year's Giro and 4th in 2011 but it is the Vuelta a España that Moreno has really shown promise - finishing inside the top-10 for the past two years.
It may be time for the 30-year-old to separate himself from 'Purito', says Ekimov. The Spanish duo have proven to be a near-inseparable force in recent years, at both one-day races and grand tours but with the older Rodríguez nearing his final years as a professional, it's time for Moreno who is yet to truly appreciate his ability, to stand up and take a leadership role.
"I think that victory in Flèche Wallonne is very important to him (Moreno),” said Ekimov. "He is a rider with a high level but does not always understand what he is capable of. I have tried to explain that sometimes he must take a separated path from Joaquim Rodríguez.
"Of course, Rodríguez is the leader but his career can end in a year or two, and Moreno's is yet to truly start. Therefore he must now see that he is capable. For his confidence, getting the win (at Flèche) is very important."
Katusha has not listed Moreno on the provisional start list for the Giro but if history is anything to go by, he should be lining up in Naples on May 4 for the opening 130km road stage. Rodríguez is focussed on stepping onto the podium at the Tour de France this year and will not be riding however, 2009 winner Dennis Menchov, who has failed to land a significant result in a grand tour after signing with his country's ProTeam, is expected to be included in the line-up.