Francisco Pérez's sixth place in the opening time trial of the Giro d'Italia was described as a "nice surprise" by his Caisse d'Epargne-Illes Balears team. The 27 year-old Spaniard, who returned to competition in 2005 after an 18 month suspension for EPO use, is focused on doing well again.
"To tell you the truth, when we went to reconnoitre the course, I immediately understood that I had a good chance to do well, but to think that I would be able to realise such a time, similar to that of Ivan Gutiérrez and some other specialists, that was a jump! Anyway I am entirely satisfied with my performance."
Pérez said that he didn't prepare especially for the time trial. "Not for the time trial in particular, but I did it for the whole Giro. It is one of the most important aims of my season."
As to what he can achieve in this race, "We shall have to wait until the race really starts before being able to decide what to do and we specially will have to wait the first mountain stage in order to see how everybody's form looks like.
"I will for sure give it all to try to win a stage. With regard to the general classification, I think that the last ten days will be so difficult that to stay in the front will be far from being easy. But you never know, perhaps I will be in the top part of the ranking then and look for some new objective."
Pérez also commented on the Giro's start in Belgium. "To be in Belgium with a public and an environment very different from the one I guess we will find in Italy is very strange, and it is not easy to really concentrate on the race. It is difficult to imagine that you have started a three week long race. I personally think it is a good thing because the race will not seem as long as it usually does! Moreover the race presents an atypical configuration starting with four more or less flat stages, then immediately the first rest day and then the team time trial. After that we will have some more stages that are not really difficult before reaching the second rest day.
"But after that what a long week will be waiting for us. It is expected to be a terrible one and I am sure it will be! Anyway I think that this Giro will give us the impression that it is shorter than a normal traditional long stage race."