12 Aussies line up for Giro
Twelve Australians will line up for the Giro d'Italia (Tour of Italy) which starts this Saturday in Reggio Calabria and finishes on May 29th in Milan. The 21 days of racing will cover 3,496 kilometres.
The Australian contingent is made up of Stuart O'Grady and Matt White (Cofidis), Robbie McEwen, NIck Gates and Henk Vogels (Davitamon-Lotto), Baden Cooke, Matthew Wilson and Mark Renshaw (FDJeux.com), Brett Lancaster (Ceramiche Panaria), Trent Wilson and Russell Van Hout (Colombia Selle Italia) and Rory Sutherland (Rabobank).
"It's fantastic to see the depth of Australian riders in the professional peloton and not just in one or two teams but spread across Europe," said Athens Olympic Games gold medallist, O'Grady. "It will make for some good storytelling for the first 100km of the stages."
Wilson, lining up in his second Giro, is also looking forward to the increased Australian presence.
"We are going to run amuck in the tour village in the morning with those short blacks and drive the Italians crazy with the Aussie lingo and slang in the bunch in the quiet periods when we're not biting the handle bars," said Wilson.
For O'Grady lining up in the Giro signals a different approach to his Tour de France preparation.
"The Giro suits me a little better than the 'Four Days of Dunkirk' which has been on my program for the last 11 years," said O'Grady who lines up after a three week mid-season break. "The new system of Pro Tour points makes these big races much more important and I'd prefer to be going up against Petacchi (Italian sprint sensation) etc in the sun than racing four days in the cold.
Alessandro Petacchi (Fassa Bortolo), who set a post-war record last year in winning nine stages is tipped to again dominate the sprints while fellow Italians, defending champion Damiano Cunego and two-time Giro winner Gilberto Simoni (both Lampre Caffita), are tipped as favourites for the overall.
But O'Grady is looking further down the track to France in July.
"Our team is hoping for some decent results in the first ten days but I have no major objectives for the Giro," said O'Grady. "Petacchi is going 100 percent and not doing the Tour de France - I'm the opposite and this is part of my build up for 'le Tour'."
McEwen, who scored one stage win and three second placings in Italy last year, is also using the Giro to prepare for France.
"I'm aiming for a stage win ," said McEwen although he's keen to notch up more stage wins if the opportunity presents itself. "You've got to start with one because you can't get two in one go and if I get one I can then work on getting another one.
"Also I want to ride myself into 100 percent health and build up my condition because I've been battling illness," said McEwen who since February has suffered fever, bronchitis and severe sinusitis forcing him to take an unscheduled rest from racing. "I've been back racing for three weeks and only back on the bike for a month."
Aussie MTB riders celebrate success
Australians filled the top three places in the MTB category of the Sea Otter Classic in California last month.
The opening event for the international downhill calendar was raced from April 14 to 17 in Monterey and saw Jared Graves, Bryn Atkinson and Mick Hannah secure a podium clean sweep for Australia in the overall results (combines slalom, 4X and downhill).
The riders then headed to Spain for the first round of the UCI World Cup DH/4X last weekend. Sam Hill (Iron Horse Mad Catz), Mick Hannah (Haro Bikes) and Nathan Rennie (Santa Cruz Syndicate) filled 3rd to 5th place respectively in the elite men's downhill. Bryn Atkinson (GT Hyundai) and Justin Havukainen finished 10th and 15th.
For further information please contact:
Gennie Sheer, Sheer Rhetoric - Media Manager, Cycling Australia
Mobile: 0418 863 533
For rider profiles please visit the Cycling Australia website - www.cycling.org.au