Vincenzo Nibali Heads Team Liquigas-Cannondale in 2011 Giro d'Italia
Team Liquigas-Cannondale's line-up for the Giro d'Italia 2011 has been announced.
Team Liquigas-Cannondale will start the 2011 Giro d'Italia with a solid team built around Vincenzo Nibali who is the team's sole leader in the Giro. The team's only focus in the Giro will be to claim the leader's jersey - the maglia rosa - and keep it all the way to the Giro finish in Milan on May 29.
According to Team Liquigas-Cannondale sports director Alberto Volpi the team has worked hard in preparation for the Giro, which is a major goal for the team in the 2011 season.
"We've pulled out all the stops to prepare for this race. We're motivated and well aware of the (scale of the) challenge awaiting us, and we're ready to race now," Volpi told Roadcycling.com and our mobile sister site Roadcycling.mobi.
The 2011 Giro d'Italia kicks off with a team time trial in Turin and then travels south through the Italian landscape reaching Sicily before the riders pedal back north heading for the Italian capital of Milan. Volpi believes that the 2011 Giro will be a very exciting edition for cycling fans to follow because of the tough and intensive route planned by the race organizers.
"It's a really tough route full of potential pitfalls. The last week will be the real decider as it has the steepest climbs, but none of the previous stages should be underestimated. I reckon there will be lots of tricky situations and demanding finishes. I'm sure that this Giro will be anyone's race right up to the last day," Volpi explained.
Volpi and the rest of the Liquigas team management has built this year's team roster specifically to optimize the chances for Vincenzo Nibali to finish on the top of the podium in Milan. Each rider has been carefully selected for his unique abilities to support Nibali in the various terrain types which await the riders in the coming three weeks.
"We want win the pink jersey and to support Nibali in every phase of the race, from the flatter stages to the climbs. All the riders are up to the job," Volpi told Roadcycling.com.
Valerio Agnoli, Eros Capecchi, Cristiano Salerno and Sylwester Szmyd have all been chosen because of their great climbing skills.
"Time and again Valerio has shown how skilled he is, as have Eros and Sylwester, who will be with him in the finales during the mountain stages. This is Cristiano's first big tour but his reliability and strength on the climbs are guarantees enough for us."
The team has complete trust in its group of "rouleurs," which includes Tiziano Dall'Antonia, Alan Marangoni, Fabio Sabatini and Alessandro Vanotti.
"They know exactly what they need to do and I'm counting on their experience to support Vincenzo in every phase of the race. Vanotti in particular will be an important addition on the medium climbs as well, while Sabatini will be free to play his hand and go for a win in the sprint finishes."
Interestingly Team Liquigas-Cannondale chose to remove Ivan Basso from the team's Giro d'Italia line-up only a few weeks before the start. According to a team spokesman this decision was made because Basso was too unfit to be able to help Nibali secure the overall Giro d'Italia victory. Cycling commentators, however, speculate that Ivan Basso was not willing to ride for Nibali as a support rider. Rumor also has it that Basso is refusing to ride any Grand Tour if he is not the sole team leader.
"Not taking part in the Giro d'Italia is a huge sacrifice for me," Basso said in a statement previously released by the team.
"But there's no way my current level of fitness would enable me to do it justice. In our plans at the start of season, we thought I'd do the Giro and then the Tour de France with the aim of flanking and supporting Vincenzo Nibali on his quest for the pink jersey. I was hoping to feel something right up to the last moment that would reassure me and give me confidence. But unfortunately those feelings didn't come," Basso added.
"All I can say to the Giro d'Italia fans is "arrivederci." The idea of winning the pink jersey a third time before I retire is still firmly fixed in my brain," Basso concluded. It remains to be seen if Basso will be wearing the Team Liquigas jersey when making his final quest for a third Giro d'Italia victory.
According to Team Liquigas-Cannondale manager Roberto Amadio "If we'd let Ivan race, we'd have been able to offer Vincenzo (Nibali) an unparalleled wealth of experience and skill. But his fitness won't let us and we think we've made the best decision otherwise we'd be risking our preparations for the 2011 Tour de France. We'll be doing our very best to honor the Giro, just as we've always done. Vincenzo and his teammates will aim for a repeat performance of Ivan's accomplishment and give us a new and immensely satisfying result."
Watch video highlights from each stage of the 2011 Giro d'Italia in the video section right here on Roadcycling.com and watch live coverage from the Giro on www.universalsports.com/cycling. Tell your friends about Roadcycling.com's 2011 Giro d'Italia coverage.
Team Liquigas-Cannondale roster for the Giro d'Italia 2011:
Vincenzo Nibali, Valerio Agnoli, Eros Capecchi, Tiziano Dall'Antonia, Alan Marangoni, Fabio Sabatini, Cristiano Salerno, Alessandro Vanotti, and Sylwester Szmyd.