Marcel Wust writes
What the experts sayFELICE GIMONDI: "When you confront two climbers, Pantani and Gotti, and two all rounders, Zülle and Tonkov: only after one week will we have clearer indications. But even of the two climbers defend themselves in the time trials, things are not going to be even."
LUCIANO PEZZI (Gimondi's Sport Director and now Pantani's boss): "Without a doubt, Zülle will be the one to watch in the race: he has prepared better and is strong everywhere."
GIANNI MOTTA (Giro winner in 1966): "I think that it'll be Zülle the one that will be attacking his adversaries."
GIUSEPPE MARTINELLI (Sport Director of Mercatone Uno-Bianchi): "Zülle is the favorite for the time trial. I'm convinced that we can win with Pantani. Marco has said that he will need to keep Zülle in sight every day. And Zülle better carry his eyeglasses with him on every descent."
BRUNO ROUSSEL (Sport Director for Festina-Lotus): "It is very difficult to make a prediction, Pantani, Gotti and Tonkov are dangerous adversaries that we respect. But if Alex has been able to win at la Vuelta and to make the podium at the Tour, he can also win at the Giro."
GIUSEPPE SARONNI (Team Manager of Mapei-Bricobě): "Zülle has impressed everyone, he has experience at a high level and a great team."
EMMANUELE BOMBINI (Sport Director of Team Riso Scotti-Aiwa) "Zulle will need to administer well his advantage at the time trial: he could make it his race because it is easier to defend than to attack. In the race he will behave like Indurain."
FRANCESCO MOSER (Giro winner in 1984): "Pavel (Tonkov) will be the rider that will adapt the best to the race. He has the experience and a very strong team. Zülle? He may be going strong, but he will pay for the Giro atmosphere, the roads that he doesn't know. It's going to be difficult for Pantani, he will have to attack all his rivals in all the mountain stages."
VITTORIO ADORNI (Giro winner in 1965): "Tonkov is stronger than the other three, it'll be like in 1996, when he won. Zülle has shown his performance in la Vuelta, but he has always had difficulties in major tours. And he will specially pay because the Giro is different from the Tour and Vuelta: it is a great unknown."
ANTONIO SALUTINI (Gotti's sport director): "I vote for Tonkov because he has class, but inside of me I hope a repeat like in 1997. Pantani will be the strongest on the climbs, but that won't be enough."
FLAVIO MIOZZO (Team Ballan's Sport Director): "Tonkov is the most solid athlete, physically and character wise. Zülle will pay because of the Giro's structure as a race. I vote for Gontchar."
GIUSEPPE LANZONI (Team Amore&Vita-ForzArcore sport director): Pavel will not repeat the tactical mistakes that he made in 1997."
DAVIDE CASSANI (ex-Pro and commentator for RAI): Votes for Pantani: "because this will be the first time that he has been able to prepare without major problems, he has a whole team working for him. Zülle instead will pay in the very tough climbs that are characteritic of the Giro, to which he's not used to."
FABIO BORDONALI (Brescialat-Liquigas' sport director): "Pantani looks very convincing, he is classy rider and he can't be matched on the climbs."
DAVIDE BOIFAVA (Asics-CGA's Team Manager): "He has shown that he is the best in the mountains and he has imporved in thetime trial."
SANDRO QUINTARELLI (Ros Mary-Amica Chips' sport director): "He won't lose 5 minutes in a time trial."
GIUSEPPE PETITO (Cantina Tollo-Alexia Alluminio's sport director): "If Pantani wins, it would be the surprise of the Giro. It is not enough to be good in the mountains, in order to win the Giro he must excel in the time trial."
PreviewMario Cipollini, the rider they call Super Mario or the Lion King, is not in the super form he needs to dominate the flat stages of the Giro d'Italia. He has claimed that race organisers have deliberately not designed the sprints to suit him. He has also been sick this year. In last year's Giro he won 5 stages and the points jersey.
He has told the world press: "I am missing the great form I had last year. I don't know how I am sprinting because I have had only four opportunities so far. I won two and was second in the others. The organisers of races so far have not respected the sprinters. It is incredible that there have been so few sprint finishes. I hope there will be more chances in the Tour and for the rest of the season."
Super Mario has one challenge though to compete hard in the sprints. He is going for his 23rd stage win at the Giro which sets will see him equal the record held by the late "Campionissimo"' Fausto Coppi
This year's Giro is not a sprinter's paradise. It has only 5 fast stage finishes and harder mountains this year. The major change is the increased emphasis on time trials. The major threats for the maillot rose are last year's winner Ivan Gotti, a teammate at Saeco of Cipollini, 1996 winner Russian Pavel Tonkov, Swiss Alex Zulle (riding his first Giro), and mountain specialist Marco Pantani.
29-year old Alex Zulle is the popular pick and he hopes to get things going from the start by winning the 7 kms prologue on the streets of Nice (France). Zulle thinks that it wil be Pavel Tonkov, Marco Pantani and Ivan Gotti who stand between him and victory. If Zulle can overcome the rivals he will be only the fourth Swiss rider in the 81 year history of the great event to win (previous winners were Hugo Koblet in 1950, Carlo Clerici in 1954 and Tony Rominger in 1995). Zulle, has been storming recently and has three chances to use his time trial skills to advantage - the opening prologue, the 15th Stage at Trieste (40 kms) and the 21st Stage at Lugano (34 kms).
And what of Gotti? The defending champion is, along with Pantani the best climber in the Giro. Pantani is now fully over his bad leg injuries which he incurred in the Tour of Lombardy a few years ago. Gotti believes that they must beat Zulle in the mountain stages and it will be interesting if he forms a "team" with Pantani to destroy Zulle and then fight it out among themselves.
Gotti is reported as saying: Zuelle starts with a potential four-minute lead from three against-the-clock stages. Thus I must think to attack him on the mountains, where he's most vulnerable. I hope to get some support from Pantani for defeating him."
This year's Giro has attempted to improve its image and has the riders starting in France (Nice) then heading back into Italy (after Stage 1 which finishes in Cuneo) and later it holds the second last stage at Lugano in Switzerland.
The field includes 18 teams with one Australian, four Swedes and four Colombians. The riders will cover 3,868 kms over the length and breadth of Italy and see how they fare in the mountains of the north. The hardest stage is the 17th which involves two mountain passes in excess of 2000m (Marmolada and Sella-Cima Coppi).
Complete Starting ListThe number next to the rider's name is their age.
SAECO-CANNONDALE AMORE e VITA - FORZARCORE 1 GOTTI Ivan 29 (Ita) 11 MAGNUSSON Glenn 28 (Swe) 2 CIPOLLINI Mario 31 (Ita) 12 ANDRIOTTO Dario 25 (Ita) 3 FAGNINI Gian Matteo 27 (Ita) 13 GIACOMELLI Sandro 27 (Ita) 4 CALCATERRA Giuseppe (Ita) 14 PATUELLI Andrea (Ita) 5 FRIGO Dario 24 (Ita) 15 ZUCCHI Simone 27 (Ita) 6 PADRNOS Pavel 27 (Cze) 16 WHITE Matthew 24 (Aus) 7 PIEPOLI Leonardo 26 (Ita) 17 DE PASQUALE Maurizio (Ita) 8 SAVOLDELLI Paolo 25 (Ita) 18 LEPORATI Simone 26 (Ita) 9 SCIREA Mario 33 (Ita) 19 PROFETI Federico 25 (Ita) ASICS - C.G.A. BALLAN 21 BARTOLI Michele 27 (Ita) 31 CATTAI Stefano 30 (Ita) 22 BETTINI Paolo 24 (Ita) 32 COLOMBO Gabriele 26 (Ita) 23 NOE' Andrea 29 (Ita) 33 FINCO Carlo 29 (Ita) 24 SHEFER Alexandre 26 (Kaz) 34 GONTCHENKOV Alexandre 28 (Rus) 25 SCINTO Luca 30 (Ita) 35 LEONI Endrio 29 (Ita) 26 COLONNA Federico 25 (Ita) 36 LODA Nicola 26 (Ita) 26 COPPOLILLO Michele 30 (Ita) 37 CANZONIERI Angelo 33 (Ita) 28 TANI David 28 (Ita) 38 TRONCA Amilcare 26 (Ita) 29 BIANCHI Carlo 27 (Ita) 39 UGRUMOV Piotre 37 (Rus) BRESCIALAT-LIQUIGAS CANTINA TOLLO-ALEXIA 41 ZAINA Enrico 30 (Ita) 51 BARONTI Alessandro 30 (Ita) 42 SGAMBELLURI Roberto 24 (Ita) 52 DI RENZO Marco Antonio 28 (Ita) 43 PICCOLI Mariano 27 (Ita) 53 SIMONI Gilberto 26 (Ita) 44 SERPELLINI Marco 25 (Ita) 54 GONTCHAR Serguei 27 (Ukr) 45 DELLA VEDOVA Marco 25 (Ita) 55 HVASTIJA Martin 28 (Slo) 46 MASON Oscar 22 (Ita) 56 MAGNANI Marco 23 (Ita) 47 RASTELLI Ellis 23 (Ita) 57 MAZZANTI Luca 24 (Ita) 48 BRUSEGHIN Marzio 23 (Ita) 58 PIERDOMENICO Germano 30 (Ita) 49 RAIMONDI Giancarlo 25 (Ita) 59 STRAZZER Massimo 28 (Ita) CASINOA FESTINA LOTUS 61 RICHARD Pascal 34 (Swi) 71 BELLI Wladimir 27 (Ita) 62 JAERMANN Rolf 32 (Swi) 72 KIVILIEV Andrei (Kaz) 63 SALIGARI Marco 32 (Ita) 73 BOSCARDIN Bruno 28 (Swi) 64 STREEL Marc 26 (Bel) 74 GARCIA Felix M. 29 (Spa) 65 KASPUTIS Arturas 31 (Lit) 75 JEKER Fabian 29 (Swi) 66 BESSY Frédéric 26 (Fra) 76 MEIER Armin 28 (Swi) 67 GOUGOT Fabrice 26 (Fra) 77 WUST Marcel 30 (Ger) 68 LEFEVRE David 26 (Fra) 78 ZULLE Alex 29 (Swi) 69 CALI Vincent 28 (Fra) 79 URIARTE Jos Ramon 30 (Spa) KELME - COSTA BLANCA MAPEI-BRICOBI 81 RUBIERA J. Luis 25 (Spa) 91 TONKOV Pavel 29 (Rus) 82 GONZALES Chepe 29 (Col) 92 BUGNO Gianni 34 (Ita) 83 BOTERO ECHEV. Santiago 25 (Col) 93 BRAMATI Davide 29 (Ita) 84 GONZALEZ Arsenio 38 (Spa) 94 CAMENZIND Oskar 26 (Swi) 85 EDO Angel 27 (Spa) 95 CODOL Massimo 25 (Ita) 86 OCHOA PALACIOS Javier 23 (Spa) 96 FARESIN Gianni 32 (Ita) 87 MARTIN PERDIGUERO M.A. 25 (Spa) 97 LANFRANCHI Paolo 29 (Ita) 88 GUTIERREZ CATAL. José E. 24 (Spa) 98 MISSAGLIA Gabriele 27 (Ita) 89 SEVILLA Oscar (Spa) 99 SPRUCH Zbigniew 32 (Pol) MERCATONE UNO - BIANCHI RISO SCOTTI - AIWA 101 PANTANI Marco 28 (Ita) 111 MINALI Nicola 28 (Ita) 102 GARZELLI Stefano 24 (Ita) 112 BALDATO Fabio 29 (Ita) 103 CONTI Roberto 33 (Ita) 113 MICELI Nicola 26 (Ita) 104 KONYSHEV Dmitri 32 (Rus) 114 CENGHIALTA Bruno 35 (Ita) 105 PODENZANA Massimo 36 (Ita) 115 BROGNARA Andrea 26 (Ita) 106 FONTANELLI Fabiano 33 (Ita) 116 BRIGNOLI Ermanno 28 (Ita) 107 FORCONI Riccardo 27 (Ita) 117 BOBRIK Vladislav 27 (Rus) 108 VELO Marco 24 (Ita) 118 CASAGRANDA Stefano 25 (Ita) 109 SIBONI Marcello 33 (Ita) 119 PALUMBO Giuseppe 22 (Ita) ROS MARY - AMICA CHIPS SCRIGNO - GAERNE 121 ARAZZI Francesco (Ita) 131 CONTE Biagio 30 (Ita) 122 CHIAPPUCCI Claudio 35 (Ita) 132 CASAROTTO Davide 26 (Ita) 123 DE PAOLI Daniele 24 (Ita) 133 ROSSATO Mirko 29 (Ita) 124 FINESSO Stefano 26 (Ita) 134 PETACCHI Alessandro 24 (Ita) 125 GELFI Luca 31 (Ita) 135 CASAGRANDE Filippo 24 (Ita) 126 MOLINARI Maurizio 31 (Ita) 136 VATTERONI Andrea (Ita) 127 PUTTINI Felice 30 (Swi) 137 AXELSSON Nicklas 26 (Swe) 128 TAULER Toni 24 (Spa) 138 DUMA Vladimir 26 (Ukr) 129 URIA GONZALEZ José M. 28 (Spa) 139 SECCHIARI Francesco 25 (Ita) TEAM POLTI TVM - FARM FRITES 141 GUERINI Giuseppe 28 (Ita) 151 ANDERSON Michael 31 (Swe) 142 CASSANI Enrico 26 (Ita) 152 BLIJLEVENS Jaroen 26 (Ned) 143 VALOTI Gianluca (Ita) 153 VAN BONDT Geert 27 (Bel) 144 GUALDI Mirko 29 (Ita) 154 HOFFMAN Tristan 28 (Ned) 145 GUIDI Fabrizio 26 (Ita) 155 LAFIS Michel 30 (Swe) 146 LEBLANC Luc 31 (Fra) 156 LARSEN Bo Nicolay 26 (Den) 147 MARTINELLO Silvio 35 (Ita) 157 MOLLER Claus Michael 29 (Den) 148 REBELLIN Davide 26 (Ita) 158 OUCHAKOV Serguei 30 (Ukr) 149 SALVATO Cristian 26 (Ita) 159 ROUX Laurent 25 (Fra) VINI CALDIROLA - LONGONI VITALICIO SEGUROS 161 FAUSTINI Stefano 29 (Ita) 171 CLAVERO Daniel 29 (Spa) 162 FURLAN Giorgio 32 (Ita) 172 DOMINGUEZ J. Carlos 27 (Spa) 163 APOLLONIO Massimo 28 (Ita) 173 APARICIO Vicente 28 (Spa) 164 CALZAVARA Leonardo (Ita) 174 AGGIANO Elio 26 (Ita) 165 RADAELLI Mauro 30 (Ita) 175 FERRIGATO Andrea 28 (Ita) 166 SIRONI Gianluca 23 (Ita) 176 HORRILLO MUNOZ Pedro (Spa) 167 ZANETTE Denis 28 (Ita) 177 BUENAHORA Herman 30 (Col) 168 ZANETTI Mauro 25 (Ita) 178 ZINTCHENKO Andrei (Rus) 169 ZANOTTI Marco 24 (Ita) 179 SMETANINE Serguei 24 (Rus)
1910 C. Galetti (Ita) E. Pavesi (Ita) L. Canna (Ita) 1911 C. Galetti (Ita) G. Rossignol (Ita) G. Gerbi (Ita) 1912 Atala Peugeot Gerbi 1913 C. Oriani (Ita) E. Pavesi (Ita) G. Azzini (Ita) 1914 A. Calzolari (Ita) P. Albini (Ita) L. Lucotti (Ita) 1919 G. Girardengo (Ita) C. Belloni (Ita) M. Buysse (Bel) 1920 G. Belloni (Ita) A. Gremo (Ita) J. Alavoine (Fra) 1921 G. Brunero (Ita) G. Belloni (Ita) B. Aymo (Ita) 1922 G. Brunero (Ita) B. Aymo (Ita) G. Enrici (Ita) 1923 C. Girardengo (Ita) G. Brunero (Ita) B. Aymo (Ita) 1924 G. Enrici (Ita) F. Gay (Ita) A. Gabrielli (Ita) 1925 A. Binda (Ita) C. Girardengo (Ita) G. Brunero (Ita) 1926 G. Brunero (Ita) A. Binda (Ita) A. Bresciani (Ita) 1927 A. Binda (Ita) G. Brunero (Ita) A. Negrini (Ita) 1928 A. Binda (Ita) G. Pancera (Ita) B. Aymo (Ita) 1929 A. Binda (Ita) D. Piemontes (Ita) L. Frescarelli (Ita) 1930 L. Marchisio (Ita) L. Giacobbe (Ita) A. Grandi (Ita) 1931 F. Camusso (Ita) L. Giacobbe (Ita) L. Marchiso (Ita) 1932 A. Pesenti (Ita) J. Demuysere (Bel) R. Bertoni (Ita) 1933 A. Binda (Ita) J. Demuysere (Bel) D. Piemontesi (Ita) 1934 L. Guerra (Ita) F. Camusso (Ita) G. Cazzulani (Ita) 1935 V. Bergamaschi (Ita) G. Martano (Ita) G. Olmo (Ita) 1936 G. Bartali (Ita) G. Olmo (Ita) S. Canavesi (Ita) 1937 G. Bartali (Ita) G. Valetti (Ita) E. Mollo (Ita) 1938 G. Valetti (Ita) E. Cecchi (Ita) S. Canavesi (Ita) 1939 G. Valetti (Ita) G. Bartali (Ita) M. Vicini (Ita) 1940 F. Coppi (Ita) E. Molli (Ita) G. Cottur (Ita) 1946 G. Bartali (Ita) F. Coppi (Ita) V. Ortelli (Ita) 1947 F. Coppi (Ita) G. Bartali (Ita) G. Bresci (Ita) 1948 F. Magni (Ita) E. Cecchi (Ita) G. Cottur (Ita) 1949 F. Coppi (Ita) G. Bartali (Ita) G. Cottur (Ita) 1950 H. Koblet (Zwi) G. Bartali (Ita) A. Martini (Ita) 1951 F. Magni (Ita) R. V. Steenbergen (Bel) F. Kibler (Swi) 1952 F. Coppi (Ita) F. Magni (Ita) F. Kubler (Swi) 1953 F. Coppi (Ita) H. Koblet (Zwi) P. Fornara (Ita) 1954 C. Clerici (Swi) H. Koblet (Zwi) N. Assirelli (Ita) 1955 F. Magni (Ita) F. Coppi (Ita) G. Nencini (Ita) 1956 C. Gaul (Lux) F. Magni (Ita) A. Coletto (Ita) 1957 G. Nencini (Ita) L. Bobet (Fra) E. Baldini (Ita) 1958 E. Baldini (Ita) J. Brankart (Bel) C. Gaul (Lux) 1959 C. Gaul (Lux) J. Anquetil (Fra) D. Ronchini (Ita) 1960 J. Anquetil (Fra) G. Nencini (Ita) C. Gaul (Lux) 1961 A. Pambianco (Ita) J. Anquetil (Fra) A. Suarez (Spa) 1962 F. Balmanion (Ita) I. Massignan (Ita) N. Defilippis (Ita) 1963 F. Balmanion (Ita) V. Adorni (Ita) G. Zancanaro (Ita) 1964 J. Anquetil (Fra) I. Zilioli (Ita) G. De Rosso (Ita) 1965 V. Adorni (Ita) I. Zilioli (Ita) F. Gimondi (Ita) 1966 G. Motta (Ita) I. Zilioli (Ita) J. Anquetil (Fra) 1967 F. Gimondi (Ita) F. Balmanion (Ita) J. Anquetil (Fra) 1968 E. Merckx (Bel) V. Adorni (Ita) F. Gimondi (Ita) 1969 F. Gimondi (Ita) C. Michelotto (Ita) I. Zilioli(Ita) 1970 E. Merckx (Bel) F. Gimondi (Ita) M. Van den Bossche (Bel) 1971 G. Peterson (Swe) H. Vanspringel (Bel) U. Colombo (Ita) 1972 E. Merckx (Bel) J.-M. Fuente (Spa) Fr. Galdos (Spa) 1973 E. Merckx (Bel) F. Gimondi (Ita) G. Battaglin (Ita) 1974 E. Merckx (Bel) G. Baronchelli (Ita) F. Gimondi (Ita) 1975 F. Bertoglio (Ita) F. Galdos (Spa) F. Gimondi (Ita) 1976 F. Gimondi (Ita) J. De Muynck (Bel) F. Bertoglio (Ita) 1977 M. Pollentier (Bel) F. Moser (Ita) G. Baronchelli (Ita) 1978 J. De Muynck (Bel) G. Baronchelli (Ita) F. Moser (Ita) 1979 G. Saronni (Ita) F. Moser (Ita) B. Johansson (Swe) 1980 B. Hinault (Fra) W. Panizza (Ita) G. Battaglin (Ita) 1981 G. Battaglin (Ita) T. Prim (Swe) B. Saronni (Ita) 1982 B. Hinault (Fra) T. Prim (Swe) S. Contini (Ita) 1983 B. Saronni (Ita) R. Visentini (Ita) A. Fernandez (Spa) 1984 F. Moser (Ita) L. Fignon (Fra) M. Argentin (Ita) 1985 B. Hinault (Fra) F. Moser (Ita) T. Prim (Swe) 1986 R. Visentini (Ita) B. Saronni (Ita) F. Moser (Ita) 1987 S. Roche (Ire) R. Millar (GB) E. Breukink (Ned) 1988 A. Hampsten (VS) E. Breukink (Ned) U. Zimmermann (Swi) 1989 L. Fignon (Fra) F. Giupponi (Ita) A. Hampsten (USA) 1990 G. Bugno (Ita) C. Mottet (Fra) M. Giovannetti (Ita) 1991 F. Chioccioli (Ita) C. Chiappucci (Ita) M. Lelli (Ita) 1992 M. Indurain (Spa) C. Chiappucci (Ita) F. Chioccioli (Ita) 1993 M. Indurain (Spa) P. Ugrumov (Let) C. Chiappucci (Ita) 1994 E. Berzin (Rus) M. Pantani (Ita) M. Indurain (Spa) 1995 T. Rominger (Swi) E. Berzin (Rus) P. Ugrumov (Let) 1996 P. Tonkov (Rus) E. Zaina (Ita) A. Olano (Spa) 1997 I. Gotti (Ital) P. Tonkov (Rus) G. Guerini (Ita)