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A look at the school, the races and the future of this unique 'sport'
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Robert Kiserlovski (Trek)
Team aiming for a top-ten general classification placing and a stage win
Trek Factory Racing have announced that its debut Grand Tour squad for the Giro d'Italia will support Croatian national champion Robert Kiserlovski in the quest for a good general classification placing while Giacomo Nizzolo is to chase victory on the flat stages suited for the sprinters.
Adriano Baffi, who won six stages of the Giro d'Italia in his career, is head sport director for Trek at the 97th Giro and stated what the team goals are for the race which begins in Belfast with a team time trial on Friday.
"The dream will be to place one in the first five in the GC," said Baffi, adding, "Well that is the dream, and we have to be optimistic and believe we can do this, but realistically what we are able to do is have a top-ten in the overall; top-ten is what we go for, top-five would be phenomenal.
Kiserlovski's best overall placing in the seven grand tours he has previously ridden was tenth at the 2010 Giro d'Italia although will be backed by several strong climbers in the hope he can record a high GC placing. In Colombian Julian Arredondo and Austrian road race champion Riccardo Zoidl, the 27-year-old has two domestiques capable of elevating him to within the top-ten.
"There may also be an opportunity in a few of the climbing stages for Julian or Riccardo. Also, we will keep in mind the team classification. So all in all, we want to win a stage, be in the top 10 overall, and be good in the team GC."
Following the opening race against the clock, there are two flat stages that Baffi suggests will favour the team and an early stage win before the race heads for Italy is a possibility.
"In the team time trial we will not expect to be on the podium," said Baffi. "We have to be realistic here, we do not have [Kristof] Vandewalle to help us, so we will limit our losses the first day and target the next two stages in Ireland for Giacomo. These two stages could be two good options for him.
"At the moment we do not have an experienced [lead out] train to drive him, we are still in the process of building this. We have worked on it since the beginning of the year, but it takes time for this to come together. Right now we have a train led by Danilo [Hondo], but I am confident that despite this Giacomo will be able to fight for a win. When a sprinter sees the last kilometer, it does not matter."
In the final eight days the general classification is sure to undergo several changes and Baffi explains that he wants the team to wait until then before setting any fireworks off.
"I believe until the mountain stages the race will be controlled," said Baffi. "The last week will be very hard. Our strategies for the GC are to stay quiet and see what we can do in the last week — we are not amongst the favourites. Instead, we need to take the opportunity that each day brings."
While the team is backing Kiserlovski for a good GC placing, Baffi is confident that any of the nine-riders selected can cause a surprise or two over the three weeks. Arrendno impressed at La Flèche Wallonne and as a relatively unknown climber, may benefit from his anonymity while Italian Fabio Felline, who has come close to a Giro stage win on two occasions, is another rider Baffi suggests the peloton will need to keep an eye on.
"Of course it will not only be Giacomo and Robert," said Baffi. "For example we have Felline for the stage of Savona, which could be good for him. Our Giro will be day by day; we can play Julian, Riccardo, a break away with Felline - we have a lot of options."
Trek Factory Racing for the 2014 Giro d'Italia: Robert Kiserlovski, Giacomo Nizzolo, Julian Arredondo, Riccardo Zoidl, Fabio Felline, Danilo Hondo, Eugenio Alafaci, Fumy Beppu and Boy Van Poppel.