Jakob Fuglsang can finish in the top five of the Giro d'Italia, and possibly on the podium, according to RadioShack-Nissan team manager Johan Bruyneel. He does not expect the Danish rider to win the race, but calls a top result “realistic”.
“It might not be possible for him to win the Giro d'Italia, but I think a realistic goal is to go after the top five. I will be happy with a fourth or fifth place - and if possible, why not also talk about getting on the podium,” Bruyneel told sporten.dk.
The main drawback may be the hand which Fuglsang fractured in a crash in the Volta a Catalunya the end of March. He said that it still hurts, but has now returned to racing at the Tour de Romandie.
“I think it's fine now. He has had a delay in his preparation, but it's not necessarily a setback for him,” Bruyneel said. “The Giro d'Italia is a three-week run, and the last week is really hard, and therefore it is better to be a fresh start and strong for the last week. This is what you need for a big stage race, and I think Jacob can handle it.”
Bruyneel lauded his rider for losing “several kilos” over the winter, echoing sport director Kim Andersen's comments from last December that Fuglsang was too fat to win the Giro. The Dane is 182 cm tall and last year weighed 68.5 kg.
“Last year he was in good shape, but he had weaknesses on the end of the climbs when it got really steep, so therefore over the winter he followed a strict diet and came to a good weight. When you have found the weight, it is easier to perform, and Jacob came in to the season considerably lighter than last year.”
Ivan Basso has named Fuglsang as one of his main competitors for the Giro, saying that he only perhaps needs more faith in himself. Bruyneel agreed that Fuglsang could be on the verge of a great future.
“Jakob Fuglsang certainly has the qualities to make a top result in one of the grand tours. He is a good time trial rider, and he goes with the best in the mountains, and if you add some experience, then he can come out on top in the big race. He has qualities.”