The Tinkoff-Saxo team has selected a strong, experienced squad to help Alberto Contador target overall victory at the Giro d’Italia, with Ivan Basso, Michael Rogers and Roman Kreuziger in the nine-rider roster. Completing the team are Matteo Tosatto, Sergio Paulinho, Manuele Boaro, Christopher Juul-Jensen and Ivan Rovny.
Contador is targeting the Giro d’Italia-Tour de France double this season and the team has been built around performing well in the opening team time trial and then in the decisive mountain stages of the three-week race. The Giro d’Italia begins on Saturday with a 17.6km team time trial to San Remo. Peter Sagan will lead another Tinkoff-Saxo team in the Tour of California.
“The main goal is to do the best possible GC result with Alberto,” directeur sportif Steven de Jongh said when the Tinkoff-Saxo squad was announced.
“For the flat stages, we have big engines in Boaro, Tosatto and Chris Juul, while Paulinho, Rovny and also Boaro will be essential in the medium mountains. Our clear road captain is Rogers, who together with Kreuziger and Basso represent a very strong supporting trio in the mountains. I’m convinced that we have a really strong squad around Alberto.
“We all know that a grand tour is long and a lot can happen over the course of three weeks. However, if Alberto stays safe and fresh, he can play a main role in the GC. Alberto and the boys had a really productive altitude camp on Teide, where Rovny and Kreuziger also went earlier. And following the Ardennes Classics, I can see that Roman is in great form. I’m confident that the guys stand fully prepared on Saturday."
Rogers confirmed as road captain
Rogers won two stages at the 2014 Giro d’Italia. He is 35 and the Giro d’Italia will be the 15th Grand Tour of his long career. This season Rogers has focused on training for the Giro d’Italia rather than racing. He has only ridden the Tour Down Under and the Volta a Catalunya so far this season.
“To fulfil my goal of arriving at the Giro d’Italia with a balance of physical conditioning and mental freshness, the Tinkoff-Saxo coaching staff and I decided to put greater focus on quality blocks of training, rather than the traditional early season competitions,” the Australian explained.
“Collectively as a team, we have done our best – both on and off the bike – in preparation for the Giro. I feel we have a well-balanced team, and we look forward to the numerous challenges that lay ahead in the next three week."
Kreuziger and Basso to work for Contador
Kreuziger was cleared of a UCI Biological Passport violation by his national federation but is free to race while he awaits an appeal hearing at the Court of Arbitration on June 10. He will back Contador during the Giro d’Italia after finishing fifth at Liege-Bastogne-Liege.
“I spent the last few days recovering from the Ardennes Classics with some light training and I feel that I’m currently in good shape. With a few days left until the start, I’m completely focused on the Giro. I want to be as ready as possible and I will do my best to support our leader Alberto Contador in his quest to win," Kreuziger said.
“I have raced the Giro twice, in 2011 and 2012, and it’s a race I really like because of the country and its people. Although it’s less stressful than the Tour de France, it isn’t any easier! The climbs are shorter but they are steep and intense. I feel that I have the shape required to help Alberto in these climbs and I look forward to the start on Saturday. I feel excited to take part in such a prestigious race with such a great team.”
Ivan Basso won the Giro d’Italia in 2006 and 2010 but has switched to a support role alongside Contador this season at Tinkoff-Saxo.
“My determination, drive and will are identical to when I was preparing for the Giro d’Italia as team leader, where my goal was to win it. The only difference is that now, all my energy will go to serve the team and our leader, Alberto,” the Italian said.
“Alberto is in great form himself and the entire squad is in the best shape possible. I think the quality of work at the training camp was excellent, we rode a lot, we talked a lot and discussed at length our approach. Our leader is the world’s best rider and that fact gives confidence to the rest of the squad. The Giro is always difficult and there will never be an easy moment. The first days will be difficult including the team TT. Then, after the fifth stage the climbs start and we will always have arduous days. Simply said, the Giro is always complicated.”