Valjavec Aims For Glory
Valjavec is considered a favourite for a top ten position after his superb effort last year when he finished ninth in the overall standings, the best result by a Slovenian ever. His goal is to improve on that and to win a stage of the race (his and Slovenia's best result is a second place last year). He will have the whole team behind him, as he is once again the team's leader. However, his job will be far more difficult than last year, as the Giro's inclusion in the new Pro Tour competition means that teams from all over the world have an equal right to take part. Previously, the race had been dominated by Italian teams. It was a close call for Valjavec as his team had initially been excluded from the Pro Tour after one of his team-mates, Tyler Hamilton, was caught up in a doping scandal. Despite being regarded as the second biggest race in the world (after the Tour de France), Slovenian fans and cyclists have always felt more affinity for the Giro than the Tour; probably because stages of the race have been held in Slovenia on a number of occasions - 1994 and 2004 being the most recent examples.