Tomorrow, Saxo Bank-SunGard will be on the start line for Giro d'Italia with an overall victory as the main objective. Naturally, it increases the pressure on the Danish squad:
Kasper Klostergaard explains:
“Of course, I'm getting a little excited. Tomorrows team time trial is a rough welcome which I kind of like but I'm the not the expert in this discipline and I do not want to slow down the team.
About the course
"Considering the overall course of the race, I hope the media has been building up the excitement but I also see what might excite them as a lot of the stages end uphill. It will get rough and everyone will suffer”
About Alberto Contador:
“I think our chances of taking the overall win are pretty fair. Alberto's naturally here to win and he's simply amazing to be around. Every professional knows have to handle a bike and there are other favorites here so we don't take anything for granted and we know how much work this is going to take. But he knows what to do. I have great confidence in him. He's a perfectionist, he's a man of structure and discipline. During the training camp he was already well ahead of everyone and when we were going uphill, he started out a few minutes behind everyone else and we reached the summit together anyway,” says an excited Kasper Klostergaard.
Contador: “This Giro is much harder than the one in 2008”
[04.05 11:10] Alberto Contador travels to Italy today, Wednesday, and will start the Giro d'Italia Saturday, May 7, his first grand tour of the season. After competing most recently in La Flęche Wallonne, the leader of Saxo Bank-SunGard is optimistic going in to the three weeks in Italy, he is confident in his team and happy to be going back to the Giro to build on the good memories of his 2008 victory.
The Giro d'Italia starts Saturday, are you eager to start riding?
Yes, I am eager to get started. In these last two months I've tried to do the best possible preparation without being obsessive, but I think that I'm really well prepared, so I can't wait to get started.
How are you feeling before your first grand tour of the year? How is your shape?
You never really know. I've had a cold recently, and I've also had a little difficulty breathing, so I had to take it a bit easy at times. But on Saturday, when the race gets started, I'll be in good shape.
What have you done since La Flęche Wallonne to finish your tune up?
After finishing Flęche, I went to Italy to see and explore four unbelievably hard Giro stages. Shortly after I did some work for our sponsors, and then I took the opportunity to do a three-day camp in the Sierra de Madrid to complete the tune-up.
What differences do you see between this Giro and the 2008 edition?
There are some pretty big ones. In 2008, I was clueless about the Giro. I didn't know how it started or what the route was like or which riders were going. I knew absolutely nothing. This year, on the other hand, I know the riders that are going, I know the route, and I've been able to do preparations tailor-made for the Giro. About the route, I think it's much harder this year than the one I rode in 2008, although it's true what some riders say, that the 2008 route was really hard, too. But I still think the difficulty of this one is greater.
Is it possible that this Giro is going to be the hardest three-week race you've ever ridden?
Yes, in terms of the route, I'm sure.
There's a lot of talk about the mountain stages, but how important will the three time trials be?
They'll be important, because any seconds you can gain will be crucial. The team time trial though won't have the same significance that it has had on other occasions, like in the 2009 Tour, when it left its mark on the general classification. Here, it will serve to create some differences, but it won't be decisive at the end of the Giro. About the mountain TT and the Milan ITT, they're both demanding. The mountain TT has some very tough stretches, and the last ITT is tough because everybody's legs will be shattered towards the end of the race, and that might tip the balance in the case of two riders being really close in the GC.
Is the Giro comparable to the Tour de France, does it have the same importance, the same amount of pressure?
The pressure depends on each rider. I'm sure that riders like Nibali and Scarponi are under more pressure than I am. I take on the Giro in a totally different way than the Tour. In the Tour, I'm under much greater pressure than in the Giro. About the difficulty of a race, you never really know. Sometimes the Tour turns out to be easier than you would think before the race. And then on the other hand, you go to the Giro, and it turns out to be way more difficult to win than expected. The difference between the Tour and the other Grand Tours is that the mountains are being climbed at an extremely high speed and the flat days absolutely wear you out, while in the Giro they're a little more bearable.
Who are the most important rivals?
As I see it there are many, many rivals. I don't like to name names because you always fail to mention somebody, but I think that the ones who are most motivated and under the most pressure are Nibali, Scarponi and Menchov. Then there's a great group with Kreuziger, Igor Antón, Joaquím, Sastre, Sella and many others who'll also have opportunities.
Are you happy with Saxo Bank-SunGard's roster for the Giro?
Yes, I'm really happy, because the riders are motivated and even though there are stronger teams than ours for the mountains - like Liquigas, Lampre, Geox or Katusha - I'm happy, and I've got complete confidence in all of them. I think they're going to respond perfectly.