After falling short at the Giro d’Italia, Michele Scarponi (Lampre-ISD) is looking to make amends by performing strongly at the Tour de France. Remarkably, it will be the Italian’s first participation in the Tour since 2004.
Earlier in the season, Scarponi had spoken of forgoing the Giro altogether in order to ride the Tour, but had been non-committal about his plans after finishing the corsa rosa in 4th place in May. Following a spell of training on the Passo dello Stelvio, however, Scarponi has thrown his hat into the ring for the Tour.
“Already at the start of the season I spoke with the management about riding the Giro and the Tour, and even right before the Giro I still had this in mind,” Scarponi said in a video interview on his team’s website. “For me, the hard thing after the Giro is to get straight back on the bike and find the appetite to start riding again. But this year I still have a lot of desire to keep working.”
Scarponi will be among the contenders for victory on the testing Valsugana circuit at the Italian road race championships next Saturday, but he was more circumspect about his chances of a high overall finish at the Tour given the preponderance of time trialling miles on the route.
“There are more or less 100 kilometres of time trialling so it might be a bit stupid to say I want to go to France to ride for the GC, even if you never know,” he said. “I think the aim is to train really well and arrive at the Tour motivated. A good Tour would be to go on the attack in the mountains and maybe even win a stage.”
Scarponi earmarked the sets of mountain stages immediately after each of the Tour’s two rest days as his primary targets for the race. “The rest days in this Tour are both on Tuesdays, but the Wednesday and Thursday of the second and third weeks are the hardest stages in the Alps and the Pyrenees,” Scarponi pointed out. “In those four stages I’ll look to push myself to the maximum and do as much as I can.”
A series of strong performances over the Grand-Colombier on stage 10, to La Touissure on stage 11 and on the road to Luchon and Peyragudes in the final week would put Scarponi in contention for the king of mountains title. Although points on summit finishes now count double, however, he warned that it would be difficult to take the crown.
“It’s not straightforward because sometimes riders go away in breaks on easier days and pick up a lot of points,” he said. “The mountain stages alone aren’t always enough to come away with the polka dot jersey. But it would be a dream to wear it and I’ll look to do well.
“I have the Giro in my legs but a lot of motivation. I’m coming in to the Tour with my feet on the ground but with the aim of pushing myself.”