AThe final press conferences were held today ahead of the start of the 100th Giro d’Italia, organised by RCS Sport / La Gazzetta dello Sport, and running from 5 to 28 May.
One of the main favourites for the final victory in the GC, Nairo Quintana (Movistar Team), said: “I don’t know if it’s possible to win the Giro and the Tour in the same year. It’s the first time I’ve tried. First I have to win the Giro. I have fond memories of my first participation because I won. I couldn’t miss this special edition: it’s the 100th Giro, it’s historic.
“There are more top teams than usual, which changes the dynamic of the race, and there are more GC riders in contention. On day four at the Etna, we’ll already have a clearer picture of the protagonists. The decisive week will be the last one though, and I hope for the best possible result.”
Team Sky is one of the squads with two captains. One of them, Welshman Geraint Thomas, said: “It’s obviously one of the biggest challenges of my career to lead Team Sky in a Grand Tour. It’s been pretty sweet so far, but so much can happen; we’ve got a strong team, and I’m looking forward to it. The fact that it’s the 100th edition is not much of a factor, there’s history, and it has influenced the choice, but when it comes to racing, we just take the race and take any chance to do well. The level of the field is very high, so is the course.
“Time is not running out. I’ve enjoyed what I’ve done, but age is just a number. I feel I have a lot of time ahead of me. Track racing hasn’t taken too much from me. I’m ready for more years on the bike. Quintana and Nibali have won this race before. They stand up. Myself and Landa have a chance but we’re not at that level, we’re not the favourites – so we’ll race in a different way than we usually do at the Tour de France.”
In his first participation at the Giro d’Italia, French rider Thibaut Pinot (FDJ), among the favourites for the victory, said: “I’ve had a few difficult days after the Tour of the Alps. Emotionally, I’ve been down for a couple of days because of the tragic death of Michele Scarponi, someone I appreciated a lot. I’ve also had troubles for training due to the bad weather. This is my first participation in the Giro d’Italia. Maybe I’ll need a few before I can win the overall. I come here after two failures on GC at the Tour de France but regardless of what happened in July last year, I already had decided to take part in the 100th Giro one and half years ago.
“My biggest opponent is myself. I can always have a bad day. I know my rivals, I’ve raced them for a few years now. The climate shouldn’t be a problem for me, except if the temperature raises to 50°. I hope to not crash or fall sick, and to get the best possible result in Milan. Everyone says Quintana is the favourite. Behind him, we’re about ten riders pretty much at the same level.”
The young Colombian sprinter Fernando Gaviria (Quick-Step Floors), riding his first Giro, said: “I feel a bit nervous because a three-week race is a new adventure for me but I’m also very excited. Among the sprinters here, André Greipel is the most experienced and the rider with the best record book. But all sprinters have the same ambition to win. I’ve had a good month of training in Colombia ahead of the Giro. The goal of the Maglia Rosa at the end of stage 1 is an extra motivation but my real goal is to arrive in Milan and finish my first Grand Tour.”
Last year’s White Jersey of Best Young Rider, Bob Jungels (Quick-Step Floors), said: “Last year I already made a big step [with winning the Maglia Bianca]. The overall victory in a Grand Tour is another big step. I’ve prepared at 100 per cent for the Giro but I wouldn’t count myself as one of the top favorites. I haven’t done as many Grand Tours as someone like Vincenzo Nibali. Last year’s Giro wasn’t easy, but there’s more climbing this year, and there are more legendary climbs. But I’m not scared. That would not be the best thing to start with. Every race is just as hard as the riders make it. The first time trial can make the race interesting with riders like Dumoulin, Dennis and myself.”