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Giro d'Italia

Giro 2007: A team-by-team look

UCI PROTOUR TEAMSAg2r (F)Race numbers: 51-59GC contender: New team leader Rinaldo Nocentini (I) is most interested in winning a stage.Best sprinter: Alexandre Usov (Blr) had a top-three stage finish in the 2004 Giro. Other rider to watch: Carl Naibo (F), a late replacement, is a useful climber.Giro will be a success if: Nocentini wins a stage.Astana (Swi)Race numbers: 11-19GC contender: Paolo Savoldelli (I) is looking for his third Giro title after contending and then falling sick in 2006Other rider to watch: Eddy Mazzoleni (I) is a strong climber riding support for Savoldelli.Giro will be a

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By John Wilcockson

UCI PROTOUR TEAMS

Ag2r (F)
Race numbers:
51-59
GC contender: New team leader Rinaldo Nocentini (I) is most interested in winning a stage.
Best sprinter: Alexandre Usov (Blr) had a top-three stage finish in the 2004 Giro.
Other rider to watch: Carl Naibo (F), a late replacement, is a useful climber.
Giro will be a success if: Nocentini wins a stage.

Astana (Swi)
Race numbers:
11-19
GC contender: Paolo Savoldelli (I) is looking for his third Giro title after contending and then falling sick in 2006
Other rider to watch: Eddy Mazzoleni (I) is a strong climber riding support for Savoldelli.
Giro will be a success if: Il Falco soars to the podium.

Bouygues Telecom (F)
Race numbers:
61-69
GC contender: Thomas Voeckler (F) wore the Tour’s yellow jersey for 10 days in 2004, but his main goal at the Giro is to win a stage.
Other rider to watch: Franck Renier (F) should get in a lot of breaks.
Giro will be a success if: Voeckler wins a stage.

Caisse d’Epargne (Sp)
Race numbers:
71-79
GC contender: David Arroyo (Rus) was second at the two-week Tour of Portugal in 2004 and top 20 finisher at ProTour races like the Dauphiné Libéré and Tour of Germany.
Other rider to watch: Pablo Lastras (Sp) is one of the few Spaniards to win stages at all three grand tours. He wants another.
Giro will be a success if: Lastras wins a stage or Arroyo makes the top 15.

Cofidis (F)
Race numbers:
91-99
GC contender: Ivan Parra (Col) has finished top 20 the past two years and won two mountain stages in 2005.
Other rider to watch: Steve Zampieri (I) has ridden the past five editions of the Giro with 19th his best overall finish.
Giro will be a success if: Parra or Zampieri wins a stage.

Crédit Agricole (F)
Race numbers:
101-109
GC contender: After a year’s absence, Pietro Caucchioli (I) returns to the Giro. He was third overall in 2002 and eighth in 2005.
Best sprinter: On his Giro debut, Thor Hushovd (N) is hoping to win one of the early stages.
Other rider to watch: Nicolas Roche (Irl) is starting his first grand tour exactly 30 years after his father won the Giro.
Giro will be a success if: Hushovd wins a stage.

CSC (Dk)
Race numbers:
181-189
GC contender: Andy Schleck (Lux) is making his grand-tour debut, but showed promise this year with 16th overall at Paris-Nice and eighth at the Tour de Romandie.
Best sprinter: J. J. Haedo is making his grand-tour debut.
Others to watch: Time-trial specialists Fabian Cancellara (Swi) and Dave Zabriskie (USA) hope to power CSC to victory in the opening TTT.
Giro will be a success if: CSC wins the TTT.

Discovery Channel (USA)
Race numbers:
111-119
GC contender: The U.S. team’s plans have been thrown into confusion by the exclusion of defending champion Ivan Basso (I) because of his admitted implication in Operación Puerto. In his absence, former Giro podium finisher Yaroslav Popovych will step up to the plate.
Best sprinters: George Hincapie (USA) has replaced 2006 stage winner Tomas Vaitkus (Lit); watch the U.S. champion try for a stage win in his Giro debut.
Other rider to watch: Brian Vandborg (Dk) is a strong time trialist with the savvy to shoot for a stage win.
Giro will be a success if: a Discovery rider wins a stage (outside of Popovych making the podium).

Euskaltel-Euskadi (Sp)
Race numbers:
121-129
GC contender: Aitor Hernandez (Sp) is ready to confirm his overall promise.
Best sprinter: Koldo Fernandez (Sp) snatched a field-sprint stage of this year’s Tirreno-Adriatico.
Giro will be a success if: Fernandez wins a stage.

Française des Jeux (F)
Race numbers:
131-139
GC contender: None.
Riders to watch: Sprinter Lilian Jegou (F) and breakaway specialist Carlos Da Cruz are the most experienced men on a very young team.
Giro will be a success if: Jegou wins a stage.

Gerolsteiner (G)
Race numbers:
141-149
GC contender: Italian veteran David Rebellin (I) is the team leader, but not an overall contender; stage wins are his focus.
Best sprinter: Robert Förster (G) has ridden the Giro four times and won the final stage in Milan last year.
Other rider to watch: The team is hoping for a strong ride from Thomas Fothen (G), younger brother of Tour de France contender Markus Fothen.
Giro will be a success if: Förster or Rebellin wins a stage.

Lampre-Fondital (I)
Race numbers:
31-39
GC contender: Former Giro winner Damiano Cunego (I) appears to be back to his best after a blistering victory and two stage wins at April’s mountainous Giro del Trentino.
Best sprinter: If he gets his chance in an early stage, Daniele Napolitano (I) could surprise the top sprinters.
Other riders to watch: Marzio Bruseghin (I) is probably the strongest domestique around, while Patxi Vila (Sp) can pull all day in the mountains.
Giro will be a success if: Cunego wins the Giro.

Liquigas (I)
Race numbers:
151-159
GC contender: After winning Liège-Bastogne-Liège, Danilo Di Luca (I) is back to the form that netted him fourth overall two years ago.
Other riders to watch: Veteran Franco Pellizotti (I) and debutant Vincenzo Nibali (I) are both capable of top-10 finishes.
Giro will be a success if: Di Luca podiums and/or wins a couple of stages.

Milram (I)
Race numbers:
191-199
Best sprinter: Alessandro Petacchi (I) has 19 Giro stage wins to his name, and is hungry for more.
Other rider to watch: Brett Lancaster (Aus) won the Giro prologue two years ago.
Giro will be a success if: Petacchi wins two stages or more.

Predictor-Lotto (B)
Race numbers:
161-169
GC contender: New to the team, Dario Cioni (I) has a chance for a top placing. He has placed as high as fourth overall (in 2004 Giro), and as low as 86th (last year).
Best sprinter: Robbie McEwen (Aus) is coming to top form in time to add to his tally of 11 Giro stage wins.
Other rider to watch: Climber Wim Van Huffel (B) placed 11th overall in 2005.
Giro will be a success if: McEwen wins one or more stages.

Quick Step-Innergetic (B)
Race numbers:
1-9
GC contender: none
Best sprinter: Paolo Bettini (I) has won the cyclamen points jersey the past two years despite not being a pure sprinter.
Other riders to watch: Newcomer Giovanni Visconti (I) is a potential stage winner, while domestique Matteo Tosatto (I) won a Giro stage in 2001, and could do a repeat this year.
Giro will be a success if: Bettini wins at least one stage.

Rabobank (NL)
Race numbers:
171-179
GC contender: Can Mauricio Ardila (Col) use his climbing strength for a GC shot after failing in 2006?
Best sprinter: Graeme Brown (Aus) finally seems to have the confidence of his team to give him some strong lead-outs.
Other rider to watch: Michael Rasmussen is again here to prepare for the Tour, but “Chicken” might spin those skinny legs to a late stage win.
Giro will be a success if: anyone wins a stage.

Saunier Duval-Prodir (Sp)
Race numbers:
21-29
GC contender: Two-time Giro winner Gilberto Simoni (I), third last year, wants to bring a corsa rosa to his Spanish team — which has greater strength this year.
Other riders to watch: Riccardo Riccó (I), who can climb and sprint, is starting the Giro with undetermined goals; and can Iban Mayo (Sp) rediscover his climbing legs.
Giro will be a success if: Simoni wins the overall and Ricco or Mayo shows well in a stage or two.

T-Mobile (G)
Race numbers:
211-219
GC contender: None after Sergei Gontchar (Ukr) was left off the team.
Best sprinter: Greg Henderson (NZ) might make his grand-tour debut.
Other riders to watch: Axel Merckx (B) would like to win a second Giro stage in his final season; and Michael Barry (Can) needs to earn his place on T-Mobile’s Tour de France team.
Giro will be a success if: a T-Mobile rider wins a stage.

UCI CONTINENTAL PROFESSIONAL TEAMS

Acqua & Sapone (I)
Race numbers:
41-49
GC contender: Former Giro champion Stefano Garzelli (I) has lost some of his climbing ability in the high mountains and is more likely to shoot for a stage win.
Other rider to watch: In the absence of Michele Scarponi (I), excluded because of admitted implication in Operación Puerto, perhaps 21-year-old climber Branislav Samoilau (Blr) will surprise.
Giro will be a success if: Garzelli wins a stage.

Panaria-Navigare (I)
Race numbers:
81-89
GC contender: Emanuele Sella (I) has finished as high as 10th overall. Can he improve on this?
Best sprinter: Maximiliano Richeze (Arg) could upstage countryman J.J. Haedo in the field sprints.
Other rider to watch: Climber Julio Perez (Mex) is always capable of taking a mountain stage
Giro will be a success if: Sella, Perez or Richeze wins a stage.

Tinkoff Credit Systems (Rus)
Race numbers:
201-209
GC contender: In the absence of Tyler Hamilton (USA), left off the team because of possible implication in Operación Puerto, the team has no obvious contender.
Other riders to watch: Veteran Salvatore Commesso (I) and multi-talented youngster Mikhael Ignatiev (Rus) are potential stage winners.
Giro will be a success if: Commesso or Ignatiev wins a stage.