Michele Scarponi (Astana) starts the Giro d’Italia as one of the few Italian hopefuls for the podium. Scarponi will have the number one on his back, after teammate - and defending champion – Vincenzo Nibali opted to ride the Tour de France this season.
For the Italian, it’s a chance to lead the team before he turns domestique for Nibali at the Tour. Scarponi is looking to prove himself at his home race. “I will try to give it everything in order to get a good result,” he told Italian radio Ulitmo Chilometro
"The Giro d’Italia is the race that I like the most, the one in which I can express myself better. It’s hard to conquer, there are many riders who can win it on paper and definitely bigger favourites than me, but I'm prepared.”
Scarponi is in his first season with the Astana team, after failing to secure a contract at Lampre-Merida. Unlike his previous squad, Astana’s main goal this season is the Tour de France in July. This means that Scarponi will have to work for his compatriot Nibali, after taking on the Giro. With the Giro being as tough as it is, it could be difficult for Scarponi to be on top for both races.
The 34-year-old is the winner of the 2011 Giro d’Italia, after Alberto Contador’s suspension handed it to him. He has finished second in the last two editions of the race. He comes into the race off the back of a training camp on Tenerife’s Mount Teide and a solid top 10 performance at the Giro del Trentino, leaving him confident about his chances.
"I had a good feelings, even if I was not brilliant I was not too far from the best. The past 10 days I decided to spend with the family to recharge the mental batteries," he explained.
"It’s a Giro that becomes increasingly difficult as the stages go on and the last bit of the climbs will be complicated. The problem is that it will not be easy, even the first part, because the foreign starts are always very dangerous and presents many pitfalls. I try to take it day by day, without looking too far ahead. This way, you avoid too much stress.”
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