Directeur Sportif Gianni Savio outlined three precise goals that he believes to be realistic and achievable for his Professional Continental team Androni-Giocattoli at the Tour de San Luis held in Argentina from January 18-24, 2010.
"We want to win stages, we want to be on the final individual podium and we want to be on the podium in the team classification," Savio said. "If we get these things I believe we will have done very well."
The Androni-Giocattoli squad includes Jose Serpa, Alberto Loddo, Luis Mate, Luca Solari, Carlos Ochoa and Jackson Rodriguez.
"This is a great race and one that I like a lot because the courses are always up and down and there is a lot of climbing," Savio said. "Now, I believe that in South America this is the most important race. So, for a team to arrive with only six riders it is very difficult. Maybe if we stay enthusiastic, race our bikes then we will win something."
A podium result was nearly achieved when the team's sprinter Alberto Loddo sprinted to a fourth place finish in the opening stage. The race finished in a bunch sprint won by Francesco Chicchi (Liquigas-Doimo) on the streets of Mercedes.
"We have a great sprinter in Loddo," Savio said. "We are very pleased with his fourth place in the first stage especially because he has not raced in a long time. Last year, he had a physical problem. He did not race since April last year, eight months with nothing. He needs to find the rhythm of the races again. I believe he is a very good sprinter and can be on the podium in a stage here."
The team will rely on climber Jose Serpa to deliver an overall podium position upon the conclusion of the seven-day stage race on Sunday, January 24. There are three opportunities for the well-known Colombian climber to gain time on his competitors in stages two, five and six which all contain mountaintop finishes.
"I believe that Jose is a great rider. He is our leader, he prepared well, he trains well and he is in very good condition and great condition mentally," Savio said. "We are going to race for him. However, it is going to be very difficult to win the overall.
"We really only have five riders to do the work because Serpa cannot do any work," he added. "If you only have five riders it is very difficult to control the race, to control the many attacks every day."
Savio pointed to stage two as the first scheduled opportunity for the team to move up in the overall classification. Stage two will take the riders on a six-lap circuit through the streets of Potrero De Los Fuentes before shooting them out toward the first mountain finish, a distance of five kilometres atop the Mirador ascent.
Last year, Argentinean Alfredo Lucero captured the overall title followed by his then teammate Jorge Giacinti in second. Serpa placed third overall.
"Last year, there was a breakaway on the first day with Alfredo Lucero and we were the only team who decided to chase," Savio said. "It is very difficult to control the race. In the climb, for sure, Jose Serpa is one of the favorites. But, there are other racers that are very good too like Vincenzo Nibali and Michael Rasmussen. Yes, we have Serpa, one of the favorites but we absolutely do not have the favorite team."
The UCI sanctioned 2.1 category event is the most important race of the year in South America. National teams participating include defending champions Team Argentina along with Mexico, Colombia, Uruguay, Brazil, Chile, Bolivia and Cuba.
The race also attracted three ProTour teams, five Professional Continental teams and three Continental teams.
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