Ohhh! I'm very glad to see that Trek Factory Racing has chosen a realistic, low profile for its Giro's preview. It's a team I like - nothing to do with Leopard's perpetual as uneffective boasting - with good riders, the most young, and good opportunities to get important results. But it isn't a super squad. And in general a bit of understatement is never bad.
So lets have a look to the Giro's roster. "The team will be led by Robert Kiserlovski" the team's press release says "for the GC battle, and Giacomo Nizzolo who will duel it out in the sprints for a possible stage win. Joining them will be Julian Arredondo, Riccardo Zoidl, Fabio Felline, Danilo Hondo, Eugenio Alafaci, Fumy Beppu, and Boy Van Poppel. Adriano Baffi, a reputed sprinter in his time with 70 victories in his famed career - including six stages of the Giro d’Italia - will be the head DS leading the team for the three weeks."
Baffi is a quiet, balanced, realistic man with a huge experience in cycling. “The dream will be to place one in the first five in the GC,” he says "Well that is the dream, and we have to be optimistic and believe we can do this, but realistically what we are able to do is have a top 10 in the overall; top 10 is what we go for, top 5 would be phenomenal. There may also be an opportunity in a few of the climbing stages for Julian [Arredondo] or Riccardo [Zoidl]. Also, we will keep in mind the team classification. So all in all, we want to win a stage, be in the top 10 overall, and be good in the team GC.” It's a fairly realistic goal.
“In the TTT we will not expect to be on the podium,” Baffi goes on “We have to be realistic here, we do not have [Kristof] Vandewalle to help us, so we will limit our losses the first day and target the next two stages in Ireland for Giacomo. These two stages could be two good options for him. At the moment we do not have an experienced [lead out] train to drive him, we are still in the process of building this. We have worked on it since the beginning of the year, but it takes time for this to come together. Right now we have a train led by Danilo [Hondo], but I am confident that despite this Giacomo will be able to fight for a win. When a sprinter sees the last kilometer, it does not matter.” That's also rather honest: Giacomo Nizzolo is a splendid sprinter, the team is building up a traing for him but it's still at it. With a bit of luck, Nizzolo can actually scores one - and more - victories. TTT is another story... good to be clear about it.
The Giro's victory is likely to be decided on the last mountanious stages and here the Trek team is well equiped: "I believe until the mountain stages the race will be controlled,” said Baffi. “The last week will be very hard. Our strategies for the GC are to stay quiet and see what we can do in the last week - we are not amongst the favorites. Instead, we need to take the opportunity that each day brings.” That sounds even too modest: Robert Kiserlovski, Julian Arredondo, Riccardo Zoidl and also Fabio Felline - "who is not to be underestimated in sprinting from a breakaway, or when the road goes up" - are all interesting riders, able to win a stage but also to place well in the final GC. “Of course it will not only be Giacomo and Robert,” Baffi explains “For example we have [Fabio] Felline for the stage of Savona, which could be good for him. Our Giro will be day by day; we can play Julian, Riccardo, a break away with Felline - we have a lot of options.”
Realism allows to be optimistic. At the team presentation in January one of the more stressed points was: that's a young group that we want to help to develop, it has got potential, results will come. And I agree.