Di Luca poised for Giro

Stefano Garzelli (Liquigas)

Stefano Garzelli (Liquigas) (Image credit: AFP)

No Garzelli in Liquigas line up

With four days to go until the prologue of the Giro d'Italia in Seraing, Belgium, Danilo Di Luca (Liquigas) has taken stock of his form. After Liège-Bastogne-Liège, the 2005 Pro Tour winner decided to return to Italy to spend his last training period with a mixture of hard workouts and rest.

"I will start in Seraing, well aware that I did all I could to race the best Giro of my life," said 'the Killer'. "That will be like a kind of first time for me, in a sense. I will face a new challenge and, for that reason, it will be very exciting."

Di Luca's goal this year is the overall victory in the Giro, one that is not out of reach after he finished fourth last year. "I'm not afraid," he continued. "In 2005, I proved myself to be ready to win a great tour and I know myself enough to say that I can fight for the overall win. I gave up my traditional goals of the beginning of the season to face some months of very hard training starting with a long camp at altitude in Mexico.

"Now, I definitely think I've matured as an athlete and also psychologically. There are all the essential ingredients: that won't be easy at all, but I will take my chance."

Liquigas will line up in the Giro with a strong squad, although it lacks the 2000 Giro d'Italia champion and recent Rund um den Henninger Turm winner Stefano Garzelli. "That is one more reason to be sure of ourselves. We are in no way inferior to our opponents," added Di Luca.

In the team time trial, Di Luca is confident: "Only CSC and Discovery Channel could perform better than us. As for me, I trained especially for the time trials: also today I've trained on the time trial bike that Bianchi has prepared for me especially for the Giro. A monocoque carbon frame I like very much indeed."

As for the route, Di Luca doesn't have any doubts. "There isn't a 'decisive stage': the whole last week will be decisive." As for his rivals, "I'll watch out in particular for Basso and Simoni, but I'm not going to be conditioned by anyone and anything."

Meanwhile, Liquigas has announced its full team for the Giro: Dario Andriotto, Patrick Calcagni, Dario Cioni, Vladimir Miholjevic, Andrea Noè, Franco Pellizotti, Alessandro Spezialetti, and Charles Wegelius.

Team manager Roberto Amadio explained that Pellizotti's role will be "a fundamental support for Di Luca in the most difficult stages. Moreover, he will be our second attack man. His help may be determining for our strategy." Besides the general manager Roberto Amadio, the squad will also be directed by Stefano Zanatta and Mario Chiesa.

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