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Lampre-Fondital have announced their team of nine riders for the Giro d'Italia, which stars in Seraing, Belgium, in 12 days' time. Led, of course, by 2004 Giro winner Damiano Cunego, the team also includes Marzio Bruseghin, Paolo Fornaciari, Evgeni Petrov, Paolo Tiralongo, Gorazd Stangelj, Sylvester Szmyd, Patxi Vila and Tadej Valjavec. Giuseppe Martinelli and Maurizo Piovani will be the sport directors.
"We will start Giro with a good team, designed around our captain, Cunego," explained Martinelli "Lampre-Fondital can compete with the other favourites for the pink jersey. The team has a good morale, thanks to the good performances in recent races and thanks to the 13 victories in this first part of the season."
- Franaise des Jeux have given team leader roles to no less than three riders from their nine for the Giro. Australian Bradley McGee, Belgian Philippe Gilbert and Frenchman Sandy Casar will all have protected positions within the FDJ team, which also comprises Carlos Da Cruz, Mickal Delage, Arnaud Grard, Cyrille Monnerais (all Fra), Gustav Larsson (Swe) and Jussi Veikkonen (Fin).
- Gerolsteiner will be looking the experienced Davide Rebellin as their team leader, although it will also be interesting to see how promising German stage racer Stefan Schumacher fares in his first three-week test. The rest of the Gerolsteiner team comprises Robert Frster, Torsten Hiekmann, Sven Krauss, Volker Ordowski, Mathias Russ (all Ger), Andrea Moletta (Ita) and Sven Montgomery (Swi).
- CSC are waiting to see how I¤igo Cuesta and Christian Vande Velde recover from injury before announcing their final nine riders. Bobby Julich (USA), Nicki Sorensen, Michael Blaudzun (both Den), Giovanni Lombardi, Andrea Peron (both Ita), Volodymir Gustov are almost certain to be in the team supporting Ivan Basso. The final two places are between Cuesta, Vande Velde and German strongman Jens Voigt.
- After previously going back on their decision to have a split stage on the final day, Giro organisers RCS have also decided to bow to pressure from the teams and transfer the riders by plane to Italy after the opening four stages of the race in Belgium. The pressure applied by the teams comes after the formation over the weekend of the International Professional Cycling Teams group comprising 18 of the 20 ProTour teams, and designed to increase the teams' influence over major developments within the sport. Only Phonak, who are believed to be pulling out at the end of the season, and FDJ have not joined the group.
PIC BY LAMPRE-FONDITAL