Michael Rogers is set to lead an extremely strong High Road squad at the Giro d?Italia, according to Rolf Aldag.
The team?s directeur sportif said the Australian and last year?s Tour de France stage winner and yellow jersey holder Linus Gerdemann would ride the Giro, along with young Italian climber Morris Possoni, who signed from Lampre this winter.
Mark Cavendish will be the squad?s sole designated sprinter, and he will have full back-up to try to win a stage and perhaps even take the maglia rosa.
?We are going to take a very strong team to the Giro,? said Aldag. ?We know it?s unrealistic to plan for a Tour de France victory or a Giro d?Italia win but we want to be competitive.
?Michael and Linus will ride the Giro and, all being well, the Tour also. We will take the first two weeks of the Giro very seriously, try to win a stage with Mark and perhaps have the pink jersey again, like we did with Marco Pinotti last year.
?The final week of the Giro is extremely hard so we would assess things then. Do we have a rider capable of continuing for the GC, or are they tired? If necessary we?d pull them [Rogers and Gerdemann] out to get some rest before the Tour.?
Cavendish will be the top sprinter at the Giro, where he will probably get the chance to go head-to-head with Alessandro Petacchi.
?We know Mark can beat the very best. He can compete with the really big ones but he?s still young,? said Aldag. ?The thing is, he never gives up, as he showed at the Tour last year. If he goes down three times he still tries on the fourth time.
?He can win a stage, for sure, but if he doesn?t do it in 2008, then he will in 2009 or 2010. There?s no pressure to do everything today.?
Rogers, Gerdemann and Luxembourg rider Kim Kirchen ? T-Mobile?s best finisher in last year?s Tour, in seventh place ? are scheduled to lead the squad this July.
?We have three riders who are capable of making the top ten. Linus needs to improve a bit more but the other two have done it. But do we have someone for the top five or higher? We?ll see,? added Aldag.