By Gregor Brown
Jonathan Vaughters believes the 2009 Giro d'Italia will require an explosive effort at the beginning to win race overall three weeks later. At the course presentation Saturday night in Venice, the American Vaughters questioned whether Lance Armstrong's acceleration is back after his three-year retirement.
"It is hard to tell how he [Armstrong] will come back. If you look at the later years of his career, he was less explosive and had better recovery more of a diesel later on in the race. Since he has taken time off, he may have regained that explosiveness just by being fresher."
Armstrong retired immediately after winning his seventh Tour de France in a row in July 2005. At 37 years of age he is making his comeback in 2009. The Italian Grand Tour, from May 9 to 31, is on his programme for the first time in his career.
Vaughters, who raced with Armstrong at US Postal Service, attended the Giro presentation to represent his team, Garmin Chipotle. The team made its Grand Tour debut by winning the Giro's opening team time trial this year. He saw organiser RCS Sport unveil a route completely different from 12 months earlier.
"It is bizarre. The bulk of the race is in the first nine days and then it kind of calms down. Then there is that 79-kilometre mountain stage [to Block Haus] that shoots right up the side of the mountain. How often do you have that sort of thing?
"It is an interesting race, the way it goes around. Normally in a three-week stage race there is this component that the guy who is less fatigued or freshest can win it. That will be somewhat the case in this race, but this is going more like the guy that comes in 100-percent boom and then hangs on for dear life until the end, which is totally reverse then how most three-week stage races are."
The Garmin team will aim for the race leader'smaglia rosa in the opening day's team time trail in Venice. Vaughters also intends on sending along a rider to battle for the overall classification.