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"There is Rodriguez who seems to be going a little better than me, and perhaps Quintana and Uran. I have the potential to finish on the podium but realistically it is easier to finish in the top 5," Scarponi tells Spaziociclismo

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23.11.2013 @ 17:22 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

In 2014, Michele Scarponi will change the Lampre jersey for the one from Astana as he has been signed as a key domestique for Vincenzo Nibali in the Tour de France. Inspired by that challenge, he will get his own chance in the Giro d'Italia where he targets the top 5 and hopes to finish on the podium for the second time in his career.

 

Ever since his comeback from suspension, Michele Scarponi has been a team leader. He was the main rider on Androni Giocattoli in whose colours he returned to competition and for the past three years, he has been one of the leaders of Lampre-Merida.

 

In 2014, his role will change as he has signed a contract with Astana. While he will still be one of the main riders on the team, he has first and foremost been hired as a luxury domestique for Vincenzo Nibali in the Tour de France.

 

Nonetheless, Scarponi will still get his own chances and has been designated as the leader in the Giro d'Italia where he will both target a top result himself and guide young Fabio Aru. Having finished 4th, 1st, 4th and 4th in the four most recent editions of the Italian grand tour, nobody has been more consistent than Scarponi in recent times, and the Italian once again targets a top 5 result

 

"My history says that  I was 4th, 2nd which later was changed to first [after the disqualification of Alberto Contador], 4th and 4th in the last four years," he told Spaziociclismo while participating in the first team gathering in Montecatini Terme. "I have showed that I have a good feeling for the race as I haven't finished outside the top 5 in recent years. I have often missed the podium because of stupid things, like this year when I struggled with the weather, and I think I can still finish on the podium in the Giro.

 

"I will say that I'd like to aim for the podium but honestly I will target the top 5," he added. "There is [Joaquim] Rodriguez who seems to be going a little better than me, and perhaps [Nairo] Quintana and [Rigoberto] Uran. I have the potential to finish on the podium but realistically it is easier to finish in the top 5."

 

Earlier today, Giuseppe Martinelli confirmed that Scarponi will ride the Tour de San Luis, Tirreno-Adriatico, Milan-Sanremo, Giro del Trentino and Liege-Bastogne-Liege before the Giro. Then he will have a short break that will allow him to recover for the Tour de France where his team hopes that Vincenzo Nibali will be able to challenge Chris Froome.

 

With riders like Scarponi, Jakob Fuglsang, Janez Brajkovic and Tanel Kangert riding alongside Nibali, Astana shapes up to be an incredibly strong team. Scarponi is convinced that they will be able to challenge Sky.

 

"In recent years, Sky has monopolized the Tour with the two strongest riders in Wiggins and Froome but they have won by virtue of a superior team that could almost do what they wanted," he said. "Astana also has a very strong team and has no reason to envy Sky. Last year they were focused on the Giro instead of the Tour and still managed to take 7th in the French race [with Jakob Fuglsang]. If the best riders had been at the Tour last year, I guess that Froome would have had a harder time winning it.

 

"This year, Vincenzo will focus on the Tour and will have a team with important riders like Fuglsang, Kangert, Brajkovic, Grivko, Scarponi, Pellizotti and so I think there is a really strong team around a strong leader who can counter the dominance of Sky," he added. "This is a great stimulus for me. The Tour is the Tour and is not comparable to any other race. To help a leader like Vincenzo make a major achievement in the Tour is definitely something that makes me feel up for the challenge of staying with Vincenzo and the rest of our companions."

 

Scarponi is no stranger to riding in support of Nibali. At this year's world championships, he was the rider who prepared Nibali's final attack, and he is ready to do the same next year.

 

"Yes, even though the Worlds is a one-day race but it wasn't easy," he said. "Everybody saw that we behaved as a national team and helped each other even though we were on different teams. Next year I will try to give even more with the same jersey on our shoulders."

 

Next year's world championships will be held on a very hilly course in Ponferrada and Scarponi hopes to once again be part of the spectacle.

 

"If it is hard enough, I will try to go fast at the right time to impress [national coach Paolo] Bettini," he said. "Clearly, the experience at the Worlds is unique. This year I did it for the second time after the Worlds in Mendrisio and you have goose bumps when you wear the blue jersey.

 

"The Worlds is not a normal race and is not comparable to a classic. You ride for your country and Italy is a country for which the event is very important. I will add the Worlds to my list of goals for the coming season."

 

Scarponi turned 34 in September and even though he now that the end of his career is approaching, he has no intentions of retiring in the near future.

 

"It's strange because you realize that you have many years behind you," he said. "Age matters because there is a difference between when you're 25 and when you are 35 years old but the will to fight is now even greater because you want to prove that you belong to the peloton. I know that I won't ride for another 13 years but I still have the desire to continue for a while."

 

Scarponi and Nibali will ride together in their first race of the season in the Tour de San Luis.

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