Paolo Savoldelli fell short of taking the overall honours in Tour de Romandie but showed he is on-form for the Giro d'Italia. The Italian, who turns 34 years-old today, came into the finish five seconds slower than 22 year-old Thomas Dekker of Rabobank and finished 11 seconds down in the overall classification. The Swiss race, including his prologue win, proved a good test for the rider known as Il Falco Bergamasco ('The Bergamo falcon').
After the penultimate stage, stage 4, Savoldelli would have had to recuperate 15" on Chris Horner and six on Dekker to claim the final overall. Il Falco, who won the race overall in 2000, could not hold the young Dutchman on the 20.4 kilometre course around Lausanne.
"At the start of the race I never thought that I would arrive one step away from overall success," noted the Astana rider to La Gazzetta dello Sport after finishing second overall. "It is obvious that when you find yourself so close to a win you are left with regrets for what could have been. But in Romandie I did not really lose the final time trial, I rode very well behind an amazing Dekker."
Saturday’s rainy stage showed that Savoldelli is ready for the Giro's climbs. The race starts this weekend in Sardegna but the true mountains won't come until the final week, where there will also be a 42-kilometre individually timed test in Verona.
"The seconds I lost in the last kilometre of Saturday's stage cost me a lot. However, I had the responses that I was searching for. Physically I am great, and I am ready for the Giro."
Savoldelli first one the Giro in 2002 with Index Alexia and then, five years later, repeated the win with Discovery Channel. This year, he will lead a strong Astana squad that will face fierce competitors like Gilberto Simoni, Danilo Di Luca and Damiano Cunego.