After solid Tirreno-Adriatico that saw Liberty Seguros-Würth's Michele Scarponi finish the week-long tour in 61st place, 8'50 behind Oscar Freire (Rabobank), the Italian's next appointment is at Milan-San Remo this weekend. However, for the 25 year-old, thoughts of winning the Giro d'Italia now occupy his mind.
"It has been a very fast and nervous race, because the sprinters are very strong and Milan-San Remo is the next race," said Scarponi on his overall evaluation of Tirreno-Adriatico. "It is my first race of the year and I must go little by little, because my aim is the Tour of Italy, in May.
"Now, it is normal that I was not 100 percent, but I am calm because I am working well. In February, I had an accident with a car while I was training, then I suffered an intestinal virus and now I have cold, but they are small things that will not affect me for the Giro."
Saturday's race will be the fourth-year professional's first La Primavera, but Scarponi is more than happy to take part, not just because of its status, but because he believes his team-mate Allan Davis can win. Said Scarponi on his predictions for the podium: "I believe in Allan Davis, because he is a very rapid rider that can win, and then Oscar Freire and Cipollini."
Leading up to the Giro, he must now decide if he rides the Setmana Catalana or the Critérium International, but will most likely ride the Tour de Romandie from April 26-May 1 as final preparation. Scarponi also added that in his four Grand Tours he has done (two Giri d'Italia, and one Tour de France and Vuelta a España each), he has not managed to show his true capabilities because he wasn't in good condition - something he feels he can now do at Liberty Seguros.
"This year, I want to demonstrate that I am a rider of big tours and, especially, I want to demonstrate that to myself. My dream is to win the Giro, of course, but at the least, I want to be on the podium or in the top five," he said.
Asked about being one of only two Italians on Spanish team, the other Giampaolo Caruso, Scarponi was upbeat, saying: "I have the tranquility of being able to prepare a big tour. I had many offers, but when Manolo Saiz called me, I did not doubt it. I believe that he is a wise man of cycling and, besides, Spain always has fascinated me as country and for its people."