Danilo Di Luca’s form has remained for the first two and a half weeks of the Giro and the ProTour le
PIC BY TDWSPORT.COM
Danilo Di Luca is more surprised than anyone at the resilience that’s kept him right in contention well into the third week of the Giro d’Italia. The 29-year-old Di Luca didn’t think his Giro would last “10 days”, and now he’s just five days from perhaps the biggest upset victory in a decade.
“I am even surprising myself,” a delighted Di Luca said on Tuesday’s rest day. “My legs are still feeling strong. I don’t want to set my goals too low now.”
Di Luca dropped leader Paolo Savoldelli in Sunday’s mountainous stage to trim his deficit to 25 seconds going into the final five stages of the 2005 Giro. “I believe I can win the Giro,” Di Luca dared to say. “Everything has to go just right and I have to keep riding as I am now. I arrived here in great condition and I’m getting stronger as the race goes on, which is essential in this course.”
It was Di Luca, not Damiano Cunego, who was hawked as Italy’s newest star in the post-Pantani era, but he never delivered any major wins in three average years with Saeco.
He ventured to Mexico in February with team-mates Dario Cioni and Charlie Weglius for a high-altitude training camp around Toluca that’s paid dividends all spring long. He stormed through the spring, racking up wins at the Tour of the Basque Country, Amstel Gold Race and Flche Wallone before starting the Giro to show off his ProTour leader’s jersey.
But the early departure of team captain Stefano Garzelli left the door of opportunity wide open for Di Luca. “These first two weeks have bolstered my confidence. I always believed I could someday win a big race like the Giro or the Tour, but I never had the right conditions,” he said. “Now things are coming together and I’m not going to step back now.”