By Andrew Hood
Michael Rasmussen’s road back from a career-threatening crash in last October’s Giro dell’Emilia continues in the Giro d’Italia.
The Danish climbing specialist is hoping to be back in peak form in time for a run at a third consecutive King of the Mountains crown at the Tour de France, and the mountainous profile of the Giro provides the perfect training ground.
“I am doing the Giro, only as preparation for the Tour, though,” Rasmussen told VeloNews in an e-mail. “If the legs are good, I might try something in a few stages. If not, I am prepared to take a beating. I guess the latter scenario is the most likely one.”
Rasmussen has won stages at the Tour and the Vuelta a España and would no doubt like to round off the hat-trick with a stage victory in the Giro.
Last fall, Rasmussen was worried that complications from a high-speed crash could derail his career. The Rabobank rider fell on a wet descent trying to avoid five others who crashed in front of him and landed hard on his elbow, hip and shoulder.
Following an operation, doctors were concerned that the bone might not heal properly and cut off blood flow to the fracture, perhaps requiring a hip replacement.
Recovery has gone better than expected and he’s been able to race at the Tour of California and the Tour of the Basque Country, albeit not quite at full strength just yet.
Rabobank, meanwhile, will be counting on Colombian Mauricio Ardila to return to form that saw him finish eighth overall in the 2005 Vuelta a España.
The team also announced William Walker will replace the injured Gerben Lowik. Max Van Heeswijk will mix it up in the sprints while other riders will be looking to sneak into breakaways.
Rabobank for Giro d’Italia, May 12-June 3: Mauricio Ardila, Koos Moerenhout, Leon Van Bon, Max Van Heeswijk, Graeme Brown, William Walker, Pedro Horrillo, Dmitriy Kozontchuk and Michael Rasmussen
No Giro for Scarponi
Italian cyclist Michele Scarponi, implicated in the Operación Puerto doping scandal, will not take part in the Giro d’Italia, Italian news agency ANSA reported on Friday.
ANSA said Scarponi has opted out of the event, which starts on May 12 and ends on June 3, as the 27-year-old rider feared the controversy would have a negative effect on his Acqua and Sapone team.
On Wednesday Scarponi, winner of the International Coppi and Bartali Week stage race in March, agreed to give a DNA sample to the Italian Olympic Commitee (CONI) in a bid to clear his name.
Last year’s Giro d’Italia winner Ivan Basso, who is also implicated in the scandal, had already ruled out defending his title. — Agence France Presse
Voeckler leads Bouygues, Nocentini for Ag2r
Thomas Voeckler will captain an all-French Bouygues Telecom team for the Giro. Voeckler is best remembered for his heroic run in the yellow jersey during the 2004 Tour de France and today is one of the most reliable head-bangers to go on the attack.
Rinaldo Nocentini, meanwhile, will be representing Ag2r’s colors in the Italian tour. Nocentini, a winner of a stage in the Tour Med as well as the GP Miguel Indurain this spring, will headline a young and inexperienced team that includes five grand tour rookies.
Bouygues Telecom for Giro: Olivier Bonnaire, Nicolas Crosbie, Pierre Drancourt, Yohann Gane, Arnaud Labbe, Yoann Le Boulanger, Alexandre Pichot, Franck Renier and Thomas Voeckler
Ag2r for Giro: Rinaldo Nocentini, Hubert Dupont, Julien Loubet, Laurent Mangel, Lloyd Mondory et Christophe Riblon, Yuriy Krivtsov, René Mandri and Alexandre Usov