Despite sitting fourth overall in the Giro d’ItaliaPaolo Tiralongo (Astana Pro Team) has pledged his support for Roman Kreuziger, his teammate, who lies one second back in the battle for the maglia rosa.
Speaking on the Giro’s second rest day, Tiralongo, who already has a stage win to his name in the race, said he would support Kreuziger.
“It has gone really well so far. I managed to get a stage victory, which was my personal goal for this race. I also find myself in fourth place in the general classification, without really having aimed for it. I have always been riding – and always will ride – to support Roman, following the instructions of my directeurs sportifs and giving 100 percent to help him get on the podium,” he said.
The news should come as a boost to Kreuziger who although in contention for a podium, has shown glimpses of weakness during the second week. Despite that he and Tiralongo are still ahead of the race’s defending champion Michele Scarponi ( Lampre – ISD). Like many of the other top ten contenders, Kreuziger appears to be saving his powder for the race’s final week, which contains several key stages in the Dolomites.
“The team’s results have been very good,” Kreuziger said.
“We have won a stage through Tiralongo, produced an excellent team time trial performance and are near the top of both the individual and team classifications. In terms of those aspiring to final victory, the classification is very short and the gaps are small. The only ones who have come out in the open and fought for the pink jersey are [Joaquim] Rodriguez and [Ryder] Hesjedal.
“We are about to tackle a very difficult final week, but our team is very tight and we are well equipped to face the mountain stages. We think we can get good results which will get us on the podium in Milan, even though surprises are always lurking just around the corner. One of the factors that will have an impact on performances is the weather: everything is harder in the cold and rain, not only for me but for all the riders.
"Looking at the profile of the coming stages I don't see a favourite climb; when you're in form all climbs are easier and more enjoyable. I will see how I feel as each day goes by and when the right moment comes I will try and give it my all.”