Australian to play key support role for captain Scarponi
Cameron Wurf will make his Grand Tour debut at the Giro d'Italia on Saturday after impressing his Androni Giocattoli squad throughout his first two months with the team. The 26-year-old Australian will be a key domestique for the Italian squad's captain, Michele Scarponi, but will be ready to seize his own opportunities at the three-week race.
"I'm pretty excited. This is the biggest race of the year for our team, so I'm looking forward to being a part of that," Wurf told Cyclingnews on Tuesday.
Wurf's major role at the Giro will be to support Androni leader Michele Scarponi, who has shown strong general classification form so far this season. The Italian finished first overall at Settimana Lombarda last month and second at Tirreno-Adriatico in March. In both cases, Wurf formed part of Scarponi's support crew.
"We're going to the Giro to support Michele. He wants to finish high in the overall, so we'll all be there to support him. After that I expect we'll all be asked to see what we can do during the race, but first-and-foremost we're going there to support Michele," said Wurf.
The two have spent time together outside of their racing schedules in an effort to build a rapport their team hopes will pay dividends in the opening fortnight of the Giro. With the race's brutal final week expected to decide the final order of the general classification, Wurf said the team will be focused on keeping Scarponi as fresh as possible for latter stages of the race.
"Personally I've spent quite a bit of time training with Scarponi recently. I think the main idea was so that we can build a bit of a relationship with one another," he said. "As a team we'll be looking to protect him in the same way as the leaders of other teams, but in the third week hopefully he'll be able to take care of things himself."
Wurf's position in Androni's Giro roster has come by virtue of his consistent debut with the squad, after joining them in late February. He raced aggressively at Tirreno-Adriatico, netting sixth place in the mountains competition. He is keen to demonstrate similar ability during his first Grand Tour, but indicated that the fluidity of his role has helped to alleviate pre-race nerves.
"I'm in the [Giro] team because of the role I played at Tirreno. I think if the team needs someone on the front, mine will be one of the first names called, and I'm sure that at some point I'll be asked to get myself in the breakaway. That's good because it takes the pressure off," he said.
His Giro call-up represents a touchstone in Wurf's three-year professional career. After shorter-term contracts at Priority Health Cycling Team, Cinelli-OPD, Volksbank - Corratec and ProTour squad Fuji - Servetto, he said pleased with the relative stability of his current deal, which will see him through to the end of 2010.
"After getting over glandular [fever] last year I'm just looking to get settled into a big team like the one I'm in now," he said. "I'm really happy with my role within the team and I'm hoping that it can continue."
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