With Lampre-ISD finishing sixth in the team time trial at the Giro d’Italia, Michele Scarponi enjoyed a satisfactory first day, only losing two seconds to Vincenzo Nibali and gaining six seconds on Alberto Contador.
Lampre has often lost much more in team time trials but the arrival of new team manager Roberto Damiani already seems to have made a difference.
“Two seconds or six seconds might not count much at the end of the Giro but it’s not a bad feeling to be ahead of Contador,” Scarponi told Cyclingnews at the Lampre-ISD bus. “The most important thing was to start on the right foot. It’s very satisfying. We got an excellent result today. Even without knowing what Contador had done, I knew we had done well.”
Damiani also expressed his satisfaction, only days after being brought in to help save the battered image of the Italian team after the revelations that many riders and staff where implicated in the Mantova doping investigation.
“I’m very happy. The team has been good and compact all the way to the finish. We were close to crashing at a corner but it was nothing too risky. I didn’t expect any less than what we achieved. We came here one day early to prepare specifically for this team time trial.”
Damiani singled out veteran sprinter Alessandro Petacchi, who opted to stay at the Presidential Tour of Turkey until the end of the race because he was wearing the points jersey, rather than return to Italy to rest up for the Giro.
“I’m so happy to be working with him. In a team time trial like today, Petacchi and Danilo Hondo have contributed a lot to our good result, they’ve brought their speed in this collective effort,” Damiani said. “I’ve worked with Petacchi as far aback as 2003 (at Fassa Bortolo), so I know he’s an absolute professional.”
Scarponi agreed with the new Lampre-ISD team manager and hoped Petacchi can win several sprint stages before he takes over and targets overall victory.
“Petacchi has been great today. From tomorrow a different race starts and his days are coming. I hope he’ll get some stage wins for the team. I won’t be helping him though. My goal is to get an absolutely great classification overall at the end of the three weeks of racing, so I’ll stay covered in the bunch as much as I’ll can and I’ll try to lose the less energy possible.”
With 20, 12 and 8 second time-bonuses up for grabs for the top three on the finishing line of stages, Petacchi is too far behind Mark Cavendish to take the maglia rosa. However he could move into pink if he is successful on several stages.
For the moment, Robbie McEwen whose RadioShack team only lost ten seconds to HTC-Highroad, looks the biggest threat to Cavendish and HTC-Highroad in Parma on Sunday.