Lampre, Casagrande, and il Giro
– Reported by Gazzetta dello Sport –
First place in the 2001 Giro with Simoni, a fourth with Garate this year, and a third at the Tour with Rumsas are more than just good results from the past two seasons. They represent the recent history of a team that has had an uncanny ability to produce the best results from its riders. It’s logical, therefore, that Lampre has selected a new rider of the highest caliber in the Grand Tours, Francesco Casagrande who at 32 years, “Doesn’t have much more time in which to win the Giro”, according to Giuseppe Saronni, team manager of Lampre.
“But Casagrande is a prime selection for our team – explains Saronni – we needed an Italian rider to win the Giro, which is again our main objective. And Francesco has the experience and the maturity to succeed. In these past few years he’s been stopped by bad luck as much as anything else, like in 2000, when he lost the Maglia Rosa due to a leg problem, and maybe too much activity in the first few weeks of the race. It seems that his success will rely on careful preparation and much attention on how to interpret the race. In my eyes, I would say that Casagrande needs to learn a little more about stage racing, but he is a great professional, he has a rare passion for the sport and therefore the situation is ideal”
To back up Casagrande’s bid to win the 2003 Giro d’Italia, Saronni has added the experienced domestique deluxe Wladimer Belli (transfered along with Casagrande from Fassa Bortolo) and proven performer Juan Manuel Garate.