There is one month of the year that we have all marked with a red marker. Every training session, every waiver, every pedal stroke, every thought: everything, everything is turned to the month of May. Everything is turned toward the Giro d’Italia. Because for a team like ours there is no more beautiful thing and more important race, and being at the start for the third year in a row is something that resembles a dream from which you do not want to wake up.
We set off for the Giro, with our suitcase full of goals and hopes. We leave for the Giro, with a strong team prepared for this event. We leave for the Giro, with an enthusiastic staff ready to experience intense and unforgettable days of work. We leave for the Giro, with a desire to make our mark by running it our way.
That the team is doing well is evident from the results of the last few weeks. The return to racing of Albanese after the period of stop following the injury in January, and of Fortunato after the period of training in the mountains, have changed the face of our season. The Tour of Sicily with Albanese, the Tour of the Alps with Fortunato, and then the Vuelta Asturias with Alba’s placings and Fortu’s victory (queen stage and general classification): results that filled up the team’s morale tank. And it was much needed.
Eight riders, chosen and wanted: spearheads Lorenzo Fortunato (fresh from his triumph at the Vuelta Asturias) and Vincenzo Albanese (who is itching for a win after so many placings). Captain Francesco Gavazzi, in his last career Giro d’Italia. Lieutenants Mirco Maestri (who came close to victory last year and will certainly try again) and Erik Fetter (the team’s cronoman, but at the same time a man capable of going after breakaways). The pair of brothers Mattia and Davide Bais (two born attackers, and at the same time two team men, who will know how to show off and put the team name on display). And then Diego Sevilla, at the first Giro d’Italia of his career after having dreamed of it since he was a child: and for him really a separate speech must be made, because the story of a boy who since the junior categories has worn the jersey of our team and now debuts at the Giro d’Italia is a wonderful story. And it is a story that says everything about the power of a project that was born years ago and has become great on the strength of its values and ideas.
And here it is, the Giro. A Giro 21 stages long, 3,489.2 kilometers, 51,400 meters of total elevation gain, 3 time trials, 5 uphill finishes. A Giro that will cross Italy and wink at Switzerland with the Crans Montana stage. A Giro that will arrive at the home of our Ivan Basso with the Cassano Magnago stage on May 20.
It is difficult to predict which stages will be the ones in which ours will have the best chance of making their mark, but one can imagine that Fortunato will try to exploit his climbing skills in the toughest stages:the fourth stage with arrival at Lago Laceno and the seventh with arrival on the Gran Sasso, then the first big stage from Borgofranco di Ivrea to Crans Montanaprima before the grand finale with stages 18 and 19, the Oderzo-Val di Zoldo and the Longarone-Tre Cime di Lavaredo. Albanese definitely has the first week in his sights, with the stages arriving in his homelands: eyes will be on stage 3 (Vasto-Melfi), stage 5 (Atriplalda-Salerno), and stage 6 (Naples-Naples), but the other two weeks will also have no shortage of opportunities for him. What’s next. And then the Giro has taught us that every day is a good one to try to write history.
A Giro that will be beautiful, indeed more: unique. And, like us, it will be a Giro “born from passion.”
Lorenzo Fortunato: “I’m fine, I’m really fine, and the victory in Asturias I think has shown especially to myself that the work done so far has paid off. My way of racing after the last win won’t change, of course I have the knowledge that I’m going really strong on the climbs and that I have the legs to stay with the best, these last days have given me even more conviction after the excellent days at the Tour of the Alps.”
Vincenzo Albanese: “I’m going really strong, although since I came back after my injury I’ve hit too many second places and a win wouldn’t have been bad. Now comes the Giro and I am sure I will do a great race, the first week for me is the most important because there are three stages that pass in front of my house and I really want to show up. I will give everything and I am sure that I and the team will reap what we deserve. I’m coming in very charged, and after the two months off I want to make up for the time left behind.”
Fran Contador: “This will be our third Giro d’Italia, and already that means so much! We are looking forward to it, knowing that it is the goal of the year and the most important moment of the season. It is a responsibility and also a motivation to be at the Grande Partenza, to be part of this competition, and we think that EOLO KOMETA has a really competitive team, in which I want to make special mention of Diego Pablo Sevilla. A cyclist who went through all of our categories as a junior and now, as a professional, he will participate in a Grand Departure. Together with the rest of our teammates and with a commitment to be protagonists, we are ready for the Giro d’Italia.”
Ivan Basso: “For me to talk about the Giro d’Italia is always special: because of the relationship I have always had with this race since I was a child, then as a racer when I managed to win it, now as a manager with my team. This year we arrive with a series of excellent results and a self-confidence that makes us think we can do a great Giro, a Giro capable of meeting everyone’s expectations. We are growing strongly but this should not make us lose our humility: we have to ride in a composed way, we have to be united both in the good times and in the hard times. It will be an honor and a duty for us to show ourselves to the public who will come to see us on the roads, and who will come to applaud us.”
Alberto Contador: “We are all very excited about this Giro d’Italia. I think the team has done a great job approaching it, we have a very strong group that can do great things in the race. Fortunato will be our reference in the mountain stages and Albanese for the mid-mountain and explosive finishes. These are riders with real chances to win a stage, to be protagonists. The riders are motivated, the whole group has worked together to give support and protection, as well as looking for the leading role in the breakaways. I am very confident and excited because EOLO KOMETA will do a great job.”