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2011 Vuelta a España preview: Antón a top favorite among those who want to see red in Madrid

Michele Scarponi (Lampre-ISD)

2011 Giro d'Italia stage 15
Scarponi at the Giro. Photo: Graham Watson | www.grahamwatson.com

Michele Scarponi (Lampre-ISD) was one of the few riders who dared to go with Alberto Contador when the Spaniard attacked in the Giro d’Italia. Scarponi couldn’t answer Contador, but the effort helped deliver him his first grand tour podium with second place overall in the Italian tour.

Like Nibali and Antón, Scarponi skipped the Tour to come into the Vuelta with fresh legs and real hopes of reaching the podium. Scarponi’s aggressive nature could pay off big-time in a Vuelta that offers plenty of opportunities for riders willing to take chances.

Lampre brings Alessandro Petacchi for the sprints, but Scarponi will see help from the likes of Mori, Marzano and Niemiec in the mountains.

“The time has come. I could call it a dream, but at the same time, it’s the goal we’ve set,” Scarponi said of taking aim for overall victory. “We will have a strong team. Right now, the tests we’ve made show that I am in good condition. We will see what happens in the race and take it day by day. We hope to have a great Vuelta.”

  • Pros: Aggressive style; aiming for first grand tour win
  • Cons: Few race days; TT troubles

The big question mark for Scarponi will be his lack of race days. After the Giro, he only returned to racing with the GP Nobili in mid-July and then abandoned the Tour of Poland earlier this month. The long TT in Salamanca also plays against his chances. Without Contador at the start line, Scarponi believes he can challenge for outright victory — if he has the same legs he had in May. That is the big question for the Italian.

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