Today, Il Falco Bergamasco, Paolo Savoldelli, will make his debut in Italy in the Settimana Internazionale Coppi e Bartali. The two-time winner of the Giro d'Italia will line up in the five-day stage race as preparation for the Giro and Tour de France.
"I passed the winter with mountain hikes, time in the gym, on the mountain bike and on the road bike," confirmed the 33 year-old to La Gazzetta dello Sport. "Don't ask me how many kilometres, that is not the important signal. ... In January, I was at the team's camp in Palma di Mallorca; In February, with [Alexandre] Vinokourov and [Eddy] Mazzoleni, at Tenerife."
Over the winter Savoldelli switched from Discovery Channel to Astana. It was Discovery Channel that helped him grab his second Giro win, which was solidified on that epic day over the Colle delle Finestre, and he hopes for the same from his new Switzerland-based team. He will be linked up with fellow Bergamasco, Mazzoleni, who shepherded Damiano Cunego to his Giro win. Then, come July, Savoldelli will switch gears, changing from leader to domestique to help Vinokourov win the Tour.
"One year ago I was further along because I was riding in support for the others, like at the Tour of California and the Tirreno-Adriatico. This year it has only been Almeria and the Vuelta a Murcia; six days of racing in total. But don't worry about me.
"My objective is the Giro d'Italia but I will also race the Tour de France," he continued in his typical Bergamo accent. "At the Giro I will be the captain. With me there will be Mazzoleni, and I will need another two or three men for the flat, who understand how to take me to the front of the group.
"I will also form part of Astana's Tour de France team. The captain will be Vino, then Klöden, Kessler, Kashechkin, myself and Mazzoleni. Also for this reason [a long season - ed.] I am starting slowly; to be in form between May and July. ... It is a good team; the Kazakhs are not the Russians, but brilliant. And the Germans know how to have fun. The environment is good."