After a two-hour light training ride with his Liberty Seguros team-mates, Michele Scarponi, currently lying 13th overall in the Giro d'Italia, is growing increasingly confident.
"Yes, now I feel very sure of myself," said the 25 year-old Italian. "The first week was the most difficult for me because I have competed very little. I believe that from Thursday [the first mountain stage - ed.] I am going to improve a lot; I have a very strong team and that gives me even more confidence."
Asked how he felt he'd gone in the first phase of the race, Scarponi said "good enough, but not exceptional", adding that he lost a little more time than he wanted in Sunday's time trial, but is content to be a minute behind outright favourites Gilberto Simoni and Damiano Cunego from Lampre-Cafitta.
"I have seen [Ivan] Basso very sure of himself and he demonstrated to be the strongest on time trial stage. If I see a favourite, it's him, but Cunego and Simoni can do the difference uphill and Savoldelli, who has also already won one Giro, is another big candidate," Scarponi said of his rivals.
"Apart from them, I am more in the shade and I'm waiting to see the tactics used by the others, especially how the Lampre will race. And, of course, I don't forget [Danilo] Di Luca and [Stefano] Garzelli, either. Liquigas has a very strong team, but Liberty Seguros-Würth is also a great team, and now the stages are to our favour," he said.
Like many riders, Scarponi commented that this year's race is a fascinating one and not like past Giri d'Italia, in that it's not easy to predict a winner because of the number of favourites.
"This second week will be very, very difficult, with long stages and very important climbs. There, we will see who can not win the Giro, but to know the one who will win in Milan, it will be necessary to wait to the third week, to the second time trial [Stage 18] and the stage to Sestrieres [Stage 19], with [Colle della] Finestre's unknown climb.
Added Scarponi: "The best Michele comes now and everything can change from here up to Milan."