May 6, 2011

Garmin-Cervélo brings a deep, balanced team to the season’s first Grand Tour with eyes on winning stages and putting a man in the top-10 overall at the Giro d’Italia. Sport director Lionel Marie said the nine-man squad lines up Saturday for the team time trial in Torino with ambitions of being protagonists throughout the three-week race around Italy.

“We have a very good team composed of different elements that will allow us to be competitive throughout the Giro,” Marie said. “We will be strong for the team time trial and then have Tyler Farrar for the sprints. We will also have riders to go into breakaways as well as Christophe Le Mevel for the overall. Everyone is very motivated.”

Garmin-Cervélo will kick off the Giro on Saturday as one of the favorites for victory in the team time trial. Marie said everyone would love to repeat the team’s breakthrough victory in the 2008 Giro when Garmin won the stage and put Christian Vande Velde into the pink jersey.

“We have a very good team for the team time trial, but there are others who will be strong. Liquigas will be very motivated, because the Giro is their Tour de France,” Marie said. “We don’t just want to be on the podium; we want to win the team time trial. I think it will be a very close race between a few strong teams and we expect to be right there.”

Farrar will have solid support for the mass sprints during the first half of the Giro, with David Millar, Brett Lancaster and Murilo Fischer designated to deliver the American to the line in good position. Lancaster and Fischer will take turns setting up Farrar, depending a bit on the characteristics of each day’s stage finish.

“The Giro is very good for Tyler because there is always a curve or corner in the final kilometer. It’s not as wide-open as the Tour sprints, so Tyler is very good at getting through those technical finishes to be ready to win the stage,” Marie said.

“We hope to win one or two stages with Tyler. He is fit and motivated.”

The team’s GC hopes will lie with Le-Mével, who won a Giro stage a few years ago, but will line up for the first time in his career as a team leader for a grand tour.

“We have a lot of confidence in him, but he has never been a team leader before, so it will be a new experience of him,” Marie said. “This Giro is very difficult, so he will be looking to find his place and fight to the end. We hope to have him in the top-10 in Milano.”

Tom Peterson, hot off fourth place a the Tour of Turkey, will be one of Le-Mével’s top helpers in the second half of the Giro.

Matt Wilson and Cameron Meyer will be wearing different hats, helping out depending on the stage, whether it be helping to chase down breakaways to set up a mass sprint or helping to protect Le Mevel on the flat stages.

Peter Stetina, meanwhile, will be making his grand tour debut with hopes of helping out when he can, learning as much as he can and making it to Milano.

“This is a very hard Giro. I was talking to the Italian directors and they said they have never seen a Giro so hard,” Marie said.

“That’s what the Giro is. It’s like that. It is never easy. It’s a different kind of race than the Tour de France. It will be very hard for everyone, but we can expect to have some good success.”

“The Giro is the Giro. It’s always a big show.”

Lionel Marie on the starting Giro d’Italia riders:

David Millar: He is our road captain. He is the rider with the most experience. He’s very fit and he wants to do something big in this Giro. First, he wants to lead us to victory in the team time trial. Then he will help Tyler in the sprints and later have a chance to get into breakaways. He would like to win a stage.

Brett Lancaster: He has a lot of experience. He can do a very good job for Tyler, whether that’s pulling in the last kilometer or leading him out in the final 500km. We will rely on information from soigneurs at the finish line to help us devise of strategy. Some days it will be better for Brett to the last pull and others that job will go to Murilo.

Matt Wilson: He is the perfect teammate. He is always ready to give 100 percent for the team leader. He is strong, reliable and experienced.

Peter Stetina: He is our rookie in this Giro. He’s our young one. He asked to do the Giro and there was a spot for him, so we are happy. Right now, he needs to listen and learn during the Giro. He can do his job and then finish in the gruppetto and lose 20 minutes, we don’t care. What’s important for him is that he listens to guys like Lancaster and Millar and makes it to Milano if he can.

Tom Peterson: He is a strong guy. He is never sick, he never complains, he is always ready. He is a strong teammate and he could be important to help Le Mevel in the second half of the Giro. We expect him to be the last teammate for him in the climbs.

Tyler Farrar: He is our leader for the sprints. He is among the top-3 fastest guys in the world, so we can expect some victories from him. He likes the Giro and we hope that he can win one or two stages during this year’s race. We will have a strong team to support him.

Cameron Meyer: He did a very good job last year in the Giro, so we are happy to have him back on the team. He is even stronger than last year. He can help us lead-out the sprints and chase down breakaways. He’s always ready to help and to learn.

Christophe Le-Mévell: He is our man for the GC. He knows he’s not going to the Tour this year, so he’s prepared 100 percent for the Giro. He’s lost weight for the Giro, so we think he can surprise some people. He won a stage at the Giro before, but now we bring him as our leader. We won’t have a big leader like Liquigas or Saxo Bank, so that will take some pressure off him. He can find his place.

Murilo Fischer: He is here to help Tyler in the sprints in the first part of the Giro. We think there will be a lot of riders who will quit the Giro midway through the race, so we hope to have Murilo ready to try his own luck in the middle part of the race. He’s strong enough to win a stage in the right circumstances.