Eros Capecchi (Movistar) is hoping to finally live up to expectations and target the overall classification at the Vuelta a España after resolving a virus problem that has affected his performance in recent years.
The Umbria-born rider was Italian junior national champion in 2004 and turned professional with Liquigas in 2005 directly from the junior ranks. He won a stage of the 2011 Giro d'Italia and seemed to have the talent to do well in stage races but never lived up to expectations.
He had a terrible Giro d'Italia in May but is now convinced he has resolved his problems and showed signs of his true ability by finishing sixth overall at the Tour of Poland and earning the praise of former teammate Ivan Basso. The veteran Cannondale rider suggested that the three Italians to watch at the upcoming Vuelta are himself, Giro d'Italia winner Vincenzo Nibali and Capecchi.
"Ivan is right and I've got to thank him for the praise. People have said I've got talent but I've rarely shown it in races. The Tour of Poland was the first time I've been competitive in a tough races against some serious rivals," Capecchi told Gazzetta dello Sport.
"I wanted to do a good Giro but I wasn't at my best, then I went to the Dauphiné and I also suffered. I'd worked hard and so I knew there must be something wrong. I suffered with an allergy problem at the Giro and always seemed to above my race weight even if I did some long rides and didn’t eat. I discovered that my body was full of toxins. As well as having had a subdued form of mononucleosis, I also discovered I had the remains of a childhood Streptococcus virus that flared up because my diet was based on white meat and eggs."
"I've shown I'm going well and Unzue has praised me. He said he's seen the rider he always knew was there. I'll have the freedom to ride for myself at the Vuelta and I'm confident because I think I can do well," he said.
"There will also be Valverde and Intxausti but I think Valverde will go for stage victories to prepare for the world championships."
Capecchi will avoid the heat of the Italian summer by sleeping at Isola 2000 in the Alps and then dropping down to train near the French Riviera.
He expects Nibali and Basso to be overall contenders at the Vuelta a España and also tipped Joaquin Rodriguez (Katusha), despite the Spaniard having fought hard to finish third in the Tour de France.
"Nibali might be behind with his training but he's a phenomenon and will quickly find his form. I saw that Basso is riding well and will have a strong team," Capecchi said, repaying his former teammates for their kind words and perhaps hinting that the Italian trio may work together to take on the Spaniards.
"Rodriguez could also be a threat. The Vuelta always motivates him but he perhaps spent a lot by riding the Tour de France. We'll see. He and Valverde are always able to come up with something special."