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"Trentino is an important test to see how I'm going. I want to do well. I'm lacking some racing but hopefully I'll have that in my legs by the end of this race," Michele Scarponi said.

Photo: Sirotti














22.04.2014 @ 07:55 Posted by Aleksandra Górska

It has been made absolutely clear that Michele Scarponi will be forced to give up on his leadership ambitions when his move to Astana was announced during the last winter break, however, the good fortune turned to the former Giro d’Italia champion and so he will line up at the event as a captain of the Kazakh team, with a secondary role of a mentor to highly talented Fabio Aru.


Thus, the 34-year old Italian seemed nothing but pleased when he appeared alongside Cadel Evans (BMC) at the Giro del Trentino pre-race press conference, insisting that he needs to find a proper racing rhythm at the early stages of the four-day event following his low-key start to the 2014 season and recently concluded altitude training with Nibali in Tenerife.


The Giro d’Italia will be the most important personal objective of the 2014 season for Scarponi as he will share Astana leadership with inexperienced Aru, but there will be no much time to recover since the 34-year old Italian is expected to become Nibali’s key-support during his Tour de France campaign.


Scarponi participated in only four stage events this season, but presented a highly satisfying disposition for the Giro d’Italia contender at the Vuelta a Andalucia and Tirreno-Adriatico, finishing ninth in the general classifications of both races. However, his most recent appearance at the Criterium International was far less promising as he struggled hard to keep up the pace of the likes of Mathias Frank (IAM Cycling), Jean-Christophe Peraud (AG2R La Mondiale) or Rafał Majka (Tinkoff-Saxo) and eventually lost over four minuted on the Col de l’Ospedale.


However, the 34-year old Astana rider insisted to be highly motivated ahead of both Italian events.


"Age catches up with everyone even if I like to joke about it but there are always new challenges in life," Scarponi said of his new role during the Giro del Trentino pre-race press conference on Easter Monday in a rainy Arco, north of Lake Garda.


"I'm a dad to twins but that gives me extra motivation, it doesn't make racing harder. It's harder than ever to do well and gets results because racing is always hard. Now tiny details are important and so I'm disciplined about everything I do."


Scarponi is forced to follow a very busy schedule for the 2014 year, combining his personal ambitions with playing a supporting role to his Astana captain, Vincenzo Nibali. Thus, the 34-year old former Giro d’Italia champion enjoyed a slow start to the season and revealed that after attending an altitude training with his fellow countryman, he may need several days to find his racing rhythm.

Considering those circumstances, the Giro del Trentino could turn out to be a tough challenge for the Astana rider, with three consecutive mountain stages following the team time trial in the four-day event.


"This year, I'm doing the Giro d'Italia and the Tour de France, so I've started the season slowly but Trentino is an important test to see how I'm going. I want to do well. I'm lacking some racing but hopefully I'll have that in my legs by the end of this race."


On paper, the route of the Giro del Trentino should suit Astana rider down to the ground, but his current disposition appears to be a mystery to Scarponi himself.


Probably that’s why experienced Italian decided to save his fighting spirit by not studying numerous climbs inserted to the Giro del Trentino route too attentively, apart from very well known for its brutality Monte Bondone.


"To be honest, I only know the Bondone. I've looked at the maps and the climbs look long and hard, they're real climbs. The Roncone is short but steeper. I hope stage 2 is easier because I haven't raced much recently and will still need to find my legs," he said.


"Sometimes it can help if you know the climbs because you can judge your effort if you know there's a easy part of the road coming up. But if you haven't got the legs, knowing the roads can go against you, because you know its going to hurt."


Since Scarponi’s role at Astana had been well-defined before he made a move to the Kazakh squad, the 34-year old rider expressed his satisfaction with a mentorship role he’s able to play to the young Aru and emphasized that he has no problems with riding as a domestique for Nibali.


"Aru is an interesting young rider," Scarponi said.


"He only turned pro last year but he's got huge potential and could be a stage race rider. He's already very strong and I hope that Astana will help him develop. I can teach him something too but I've got a lot do this year."


“Things have been great so far. The team is strong and I'm with Nibali who is one of strongest riders in the world for stage races and other races. I'm honoured to help him. It's a new role but I'll be giving it everything."


"I've only ridden the Tour of San Luis with Nibali for now but we've just done a big training block together. We knew each other as rivals for many years and were also teammates in the Italian squadra last year for the world championships. I know what he needs and how he feels in the blink of an eye."


Asked about the favorites to dominate the four-day Italian event, Astana captain genuinely pointed out to Evans attending the same pre-race conference, as well as Domenico Pozzovivo, Bradley Wiggins and Ivan Basso.


"I think Cadel Evans will be a big rival," he said teasing and praising the Australian who was sat near him at the pre-race press conference.


"He's a great rider but even if he doesn’t often win, he never gives up. He's tenacious and determined. He's a 'duro'."


"There's also (Domenico) Pozzovivo (Ag2r-La Mondiale), Bradley Wiggins (Team Sky) and Ivan Basso (Cannondale) who is strong and experienced. The level is always high here and there are squads like Movistar too. It's going to be tough four days of racing."


Scarponi will line up at the Giro del Trentino as a part of a strong as usuall Astana roster, consisting of: Fabio Aru, Valerio Agnoli, Paolo Tiralongo, Evan Huffman, Frederik Kessiakoff, Mikel Landa and Andrey Zeits.



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