Di Luca raring to go in Giro

Fourth at last year's Giro, Danilo Di Luca has sacrificed his defence of the ProTour title in the be

Fourth at last year's Giro, Danilo Di Luca has sacrificed his defence of the ProTour title in the be

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With just four days left until the Giro's prologue in Seraing on Saturday, Danilo Di Luca has been talking about his prospects for the 'corsa rosa'. After Lige-Bastogne-Lige, the 2005 ProTour winner decided return home for his last training phase, and believes both his and his team's preparation is spot on.

"I will start in Seraing well aware that I did all I could to race the best Giro of my life," Di Luca commented on Tuesday. "I'm not afraid," said the 30-year-old Liquigas captain, who finished fourth in last year's Giro and has based his whole 2006 season around the race.

"In 2005, I proved myself to be ready to win a major tour and I know myself enough to say that I can fight for the overall win. I gave up my traditional goals at the beginning of the season in exchange for some months of very hard training, starting with a long camp at altitude in Mexico. Now, I definitely think I've matured as an athlete as well as psychologically. All the essential ingredients are in place."

Liquigas will line up in the Giro a very strong squad and buoyed by Monday's victory by Stefano Garzelli in the GP Frankfurt. "That is one more reason to be sure of ourselves. We are in no way inferior to our opponents," said Di Luca. "Only CSC and Discovery Channel could perform better than us in the team time trial. As for me, I trained especially for the time trials and today I've trained on the time trial bike that Bianchi has prepared for me especially for the Giro. It's a monocoque carbon frame I like very much indeed."

Di Luca believes there is no one key stage - "the whole last week will be decisive," he stated. As for his rivals, "I'll watch out in particular for Basso and Simoni, but I'm not going to be conditioned by anyone and anything."

Liquigas, meanwhile, have announced the squad that will back Di Luca: Dario Andriotto, Patrick Calcagni, Dario Cioni, Vladimir Miholjevic, Andrea No, Franco Pellizotti, Alessandro Spezialetti and Britain's Charly Wegelius. General manager Roberto Amadio said Pellizotti will be "a fundamental support for Di Luca in the most difficult stages. Moreover, he will be our second attack man. His help may determine our strategy."

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