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Niemiec, Serpa, Durasek, Stortoni and Cattaneo all line up to give the 2011 winner the best support in his quest to take back the Giro title

Photo: Sirotti

DANIELE PIETROPOLLI

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FILIPPO POZZATO

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GIRO D'ITALIA

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JOSE RODOLFO SERPA PEREZ

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MICHELE SCARPONI

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PRZEMYSLAW NIEMIEC

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ROBERTO FERRARI

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SIMONE STORTONI

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UAE TEAM EMIRATES

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02.05.2013 @ 11:21 Posted by Jesper Johannesen

In just 48 hours 2011 winner Michele Scarponi (Lampre-Merida) lines up at the start line in Naples and starts his attempt to take another win in his big home race, the Giro d'Italia. He will be supported by a host of climbers in what seems to be one of the strongest teams in this year's Italian grand tour.

 

Michele Scarponi was the closest challenger to a superior Alberto Contador in the 2011 edition of the Giro d'Italia and after the retrospective disqualification of the Spaniard the Lampre-Merida captain was suddenly elevated into the position of winner of his biggest home race. After a failed attempt and a 4th place last year the veteran Italian is  back this year in an attempt to take a more clear-cut win.

 

The Italian has had a controversial start to the season. Due to his involvement with banned doctor Michele Ferrari, sponsor Merida feared lots of bad publicity and he was kept away from competition until the end of February. It took a lot of hard work by his lawyers to land a deal with his employers which allowed him to return to racing in the GP Camaiore and he had to accept a termination of his contract at the end of this season as one of the conditions in the agreement.

 

Once he was back in action he showed that he had done the kilometres over the winter and he seems to be close to his 2011 level after his disappointing performances last year. Had it not been for an untimely puncture, he would have been in the top 10 in Paris-Nice and just two weeks later he beat the likes of Nairo Quintana and Bradley Wiggins when he stepped onto the lowest step of the podium in the Volta a Catalunya.

 

After a long training camp near the Etna volcano he returned to competition in the Giro del Trentino where he was way off the pace of main Giro rivals Vincenzo Nibali and Bradley Wiggins and he admitted that his performance was a huge disappointment. He bounced back just two days later when he instigated th successful 6-man move in the Liege-Bastogne-Liege and he appeared to be one of the strongest in the most prestigious of the Ardennes classics.

 

Since then he has prepared quietly for the Giro and while the Lampre team has been unable to match the strength of their rival Italian Cannondale team in the Giro in recent years, Scarponi will this year supported by a squad that appears to be one of the strongest of the entire field. His key lieutenant will be Pole Przemyslaw Niemiec  who has improved immensely since he was 15th in last year's Vuelta and with a 9th place in the Tirreno-Adriatico, 7th place in Catalonia and 6th place in Treninto he has given all indications that he is ready to support his Italian captain.

 

New signing Jose Serpa showed in the Tour de Romandie that he is coming into form after a delayed start to the season and Kristijan Durasek got his reward for many years of great climbing abilities in the Italian races by a contract with the Lampre team. Finally, the young talent Mattia Cattaneo gets his grand tour debut and has shown in the early part of the season that he has the potential to develop into a great climber while Simone Stortoni is a reliable domestique in the hardest stages who is coming into some solid form.

 

In-form classics specialist Daniele Pietrpolli will make sure that Scarponi is well-protected on the flat and medium mountain stages and Filippo Pozzato will also make a similar contribution while he also chases a stage victory in some of the lumpy stages along the way. Finally Roberto Ferrari will defend the team's chances in the sprints where he hopes to repeat the win he secured last year as a part of the Androni team. He showed great form last week in the Tour de Romandie.

 

With such a line-up Lampre has all chances to be one of the dominant formations during the three weeks in Italy and this time Scarponi cannot write any failures down to a lack of team support.

 

Starting on Saturday, you can follow all the Giro stages on CyclingQuotes.com/live.

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