Rujano on the rise

The Giro has turned up a new climbing sensation in Venezuelan José Rujano, and the 23 year old belie

The Giro has turned up a new climbing sensation in Venezuelan José Rujano, and the 23 year old belie

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You can't blame Jos Rujano if he's all smiles at the Giro d'Italia. The diminutive Selle Italia-Colombia rider has already sewn up the King of the Mountains green jersey and sits fifth overall, just 2-18 down on Paolo Savoldelli. With all that's good that's already happened in this Giro, the little man from Venezuela keeps on thinking big.

"I want to defend my position in the GC and even improve it if I can. Why not? At this team we have nothing to lose and everything to gain," Rujano said before Wednesday's start.

At just 23 and a little twig of a man, he and Colombian team-mate Ivan Parra have torn up the roads in the Dolomites, snagging two stage victories with Parra and assuring the maglia verde for Rujano.

"This Giro has been like a dream. I wanted to do well and maybe win a stage, but things have gone better than I could have expected," Rujano said with a big smile. "Now we are going into the mountains and I am still feeling good. We will keep attacking."

Attacking is just what Rujano has done this entire Giro every time the roads have gone upward. With two more difficult climbing stages left, team boss Gianni Savio said the team tactics will change only just a little.

"We have the jersey and now we want to defend Rujano's position without sacrificing the chance to attack, so our tactic will change a little, but not much," Savio said. "We will attack when it's prudent because that's what we do best."

Rujano has made the most of his Giro debut. A winner of Colombia's Vuelta al Tachira in 2004 and third in 2003, Rujano roared out of the gates to gobble up early mountain points in the first two weeks.

Once in the Dolomites, Rujano joined Parra in the winning break to Ortisei and then rode together over the Stelvio before Parra shot away to claim his second straight stage win. "Riding over a climb as mythical as the Stelvio with Parra was something I could only dream about," said Rujano, who got inspired by cycling in 1995 when Marco Pantani raced in the world championships in Duitama, Colombia.

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