Marco Pinotti heads to the Giro d'Italia, starting Saturday in Venice, to help Columbia-Highroad win the team time trial and collect stage wins for its sprinter Mark Cavendish.
"The first goal is the team time trial, we have a good chance at coming away with a win. It will be a hard battle with Garmin, but we won't give them an easy ride," Pinotti told Cyclingnews. "Cavendish had a good chance at taking the maglia rosa if we win or come close because there are the following sprint stages."
The last stage of the 2008 Giro d'Italia ended with Pinotti on top as winner of the time trial in Milan. It was his second success in the stage race after a four-day spell in the leader's maglia rosa in 2007.
"I will have my freedom in some of the stages, the stage to Bergamo pulls at my heart strings. It will be interesting to see how it develops, I think it can lend itself to an escape. For sure, the first stages are for Cavendish and the second half of the Giro will be open to the rest of the team."
The centennial Giro d'Italia features three time trials: the opening team event, the 60.6-kilometre Cinque Terre stage 12 and the final day in Rome. Pinotti, the current national time trial champion, will race those stages in the red, white and green colours of the national jersey.
The Giro d'Italia will be without the road champion, Filippo Simeoni, who handed over his jersey this week after his Ceramica Flaminia team was not invited to race.
"I understand his gesture, but the tricolore does not give you the right to participate. There is always going to be someone who is unhappy about not being selected.
"[Race director Angelo] Zomegnan showed that it is up to him who races on his roads and no one has a guarantee of racing. Flaminia does not race, but there are also four ProTour teams that do not race."
Flaminia lodged an official complaint with the International Cycling Union (UCI) last week, but the race organiser's decision seems to be final.
Pinotti is a three-time national time trial champion and represented his country last year at the World Championships in Varese, Italy. The national championships are held every year at the end of June or early July.