By Tim Maloney, European Editor
One of the great things about a big race like the Giro d'Italia is it brings out the cycling stars. At the finish of Stage 5 in Cremona, Cyclingnews asked some of the most experienced names in cycling their predictions for the final winner in the 2006 race.
It's always great to see Gianni Bugno, who is one of the rare riders to lead the Giro from start to finish and does public relations for Shimano as well as working as a medivac helicopter pilot. We asked two time world champ Bugno for his prognostic on Giro glory and he said that, "It's difficult at this point...still too early." But when we pressed him, Bugno picked Saunier Duval's Gibo Simoni to win.
Roberto Conti, who was Marco Pantani's faithful lieutenant during his biggest win, has truffle hunting as a winter hobby, so the ex-Mercatone Uno rider has a good nose. Conti has sniffed out a win from "Savoldelli...he looks really good and his pedaling is so easy."
1966 Giro d'Italia winner Gianni Motta is another Savoldelli supporter and forty years after his Giro win, the still youthful Motta told Cyclingnews that, "I like Savoldelli a lot to win this Giro. He is a strong smart rider and very motivated."
Mario Scirea, Liquigas-Bianchi direttore sportivo, was nicknamed "l'Avvocato" during his career as he was known as a smart, decisive rider who was road captain for Mega-Mario Cipollini. Although he was at the Giro in an unofficial capacity ("I'm doing the Tour and the Vuelta, Scirea assured us), the likeable Scirea was non-committal. "There are five guys who can win this race (Basso, Savoldelli, Cunego, Simoni and Di Luca) but I don't know yet...it's too early. But sure, I hope Di Luca is there for the win."