Diego Ulissi (Lampre-Merida) has been one of the revelations of the Giro d'Italia, winning two stages and finishing a surprise second behind Rigoberto Urán (Omega Pharma-QuickStep) in the Barolo time trial.
The 24-year-old had always been considered a Classics rider but impressed in the Apennine climbs. Ulissi lost time on the stage to Oropa and Montecampione, slipping to 26th overall but he and his Lampre-Merida team think he could develop into a Grand Tour rider in the second part of his career.
"I'm not a Grand Tour rider yet and perhaps I never will be but I'll see how I develop physically," Ulissi told Cyclingnews.
"I'm hoping to be a good classics rider and target stages for now. After winning the stages to Viggiano and Montecopiolo, I want to target another stage and finish the Giro d'Italia."
"My results are good signs for the future, that I won't ignore, but I haven't done any special training for three weeks of racing or for the big climbs."
Similar to Contador
Ulissi has a similar build to Alberto Contador and has little need to loose muscle bulk. However he is aware he'd need to change his training and racing programme, sacrificing his chances in the hilly Classics, if he wants to target the Giro d'Italia.
"I'm happy with how my career is developing for now. I'm still pretty young, I'll only be 25 in July. I want to target the Ardennes Classics first but maybe I'll start to think about stage races and the Giro d'Italia when I'm older," he said.
"We'll see how I get on in the rest of this year's Giro. I want to test myself."
Lampre-Merida directuer sportif Orlando Maini suggested that Ulissi needs two more years of racing before he reaches physical maturity and before he can decide on a change of direction in his career.
"In a couple of years, when he has matured physically, we'll know if he can handle three weeks of racing," Maini predicted.