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"I've had a dream start to the season but to be honest, this is the race for me. I've spent every training ride since November thinking about this race."

Photo: Sirotti










08.05.2015 @ 20:13 Posted by Emil Axelgaard
The team presentation for the 98th Giro d'Italia, which starts tomorrow on the Italian Riviera and finishes at Milan on 31 May, took place this evening at the Teatro del Casinò, Sanremo.

Before the main event, some of the favourites to win the 2015 Giro d'Italia gave press conferences: they included Alberto Contador, Rigoberto Urán and Richie Porte.

Q: Among your rivals, who do you particularly fear and why?
A: In the end, everyone: Richie, Urán and Aru. I think they are all at the same level, because Richie has been incredible at the start fo the season, but Urán and especially Aru have prepared specificially for the Giro d'Italia, and they will have improved on the form they showed in earlier races. I put them all on the same level.

Q: Where do you expect to be attacked.
A: No, I think I'll be attacking them! I think that the race will decide what my tactis are, as it unfolds. My strategy will be to attack or to defend depending on the situation. But I think, to start with, I'll have to attack.

Q: What do you think about the long individual time trial, and the Colle delle Finestre, with 8km of dirt roads?
A: I have reconnoitred the long individual time trial, and I think you have to pace yourself very well, the whole length of the route, because there are no opportunities for rest. It will be a crucial day, a very important day in the Giro d'Italia. As for the Colle delle Finestre, many things can happen. It could be a day when I ride quietly, on the defensive, or it may be my ally if I have to attack to try and win the Giro d'Italia. I remember it from 2011, and I think it's a beautiful climb, and very hard. We'll see how I have to interpret it when we get there.

Q: After two second places, what do you hope for at this year's Giro d'Italia? 
A: I hope I finish second or first, I don't know which. It's important to get on the podium. I have a very good team, and I'll try to do well.

Q: Is the long individual time trial good for you? 
A: I'm not Tony Martin, but I can ride a good time trial. I hope to do well. The Giro d'Italia doesn't finish with the time trial because the last week is hard, but I hope to gain time during the time trial.

Q: There is no Mark Cavendish this year. Wil you be filling his role?
A: I think my role here is not solely to be a sprinter, I'm here to help Rigoberto, to guide the team, and to help us put our stamp on the race. Of course, in the fast finishes, I'll try. I rode the Tour of Turkey after my injury and I rode well. I hope to do well in the sprint, but I'm here working for the team, and the team is here for Rigoberto.

Q: How has your career changed since the 2014 Tour?
A: I got sick at the Tour de France, so there was not much I could do about that. In many ways it was a blessing in disguise. I had to make some tough decisions with my lifestyle as well. I'm happy with my off-season. I was careful with my weight, and professional on and off the bike. It set me up well this year. I've had a dream start to the season but to be honest, this is the race for me. I've spent every training ride since November thinking about this race.

Q: Why is this your dream race?
A: I did my amateur time in Italy. I remember watching the race on TV in the team house with Puccio who was my team-mate back then too. It has a lot of significance for me. As a neo pro I was lucky enough to spend a few days in the Maglia Rosa. It allowed me to burst on to the scene a little bit. Those three days were the most incredible days I've ever had on the bike, and it really means a lot to me.

Q: How many men do you have for the sprints?
A: I think the team is here to win the Giro d'Italia with Richie. In the climbing stages, no one will be saving energy for the flat stages, including me. If we're in a position to win, we will make sacrifices for Richie. If we have a leader who can win the Giro d'Italia, that's obviously the first objective. Eisel and Puccio are the two team-mates who can help me, but it is a quesiton of finding a good position, not forming a sprint train. I'll try to get a lift from the other teams who have more men for the sprints.

Richie's had a fabulous career. Any rider who achieves what Richie has achieved this season is a great rider. He's had a fantastic season so far, and this race is an opportunity to build on it. But the time to look back and try and evaluate a rider's greatness is at the end of his career, not now.



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