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DiLuca's Makeover

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I know this is not news, but it's time to ask: why is this happening?

Danilo Di Luca (Liquigas-Bianchi) is setting his sights on the Giro d'Italia this year, and will not target the late spring classics as he did in 2005. Di Luca won't start in the Amstel Gold Race, as a result.

Perhaps Danilo DiLuca does possess unlimited potential in all facets of Cycling, as people liked to believe when he was coming up. But does he seriously think he can win a grand tour? OK, he probably does, Cyclists are proud and even a little deluded sometimes. But do you?

I don't. Last year's Giro showed us DiLuca at his best, sticking around on the big climbs after snagging the race lead in the lower stages, and also riding with the pride of a PCT leader thanks to two classics wins. DiLuca was on form, and riding with about as much motivation as anyone. So presumably his 2005 Giro performance was indicative of his greatest capabilities.

So what kind of grand tour threat is he when he finishes out of the top ten in both of the major time trials, losing 1.35 and 1.55 to Basso each time? Those are the numbers of a grand tour winner in the Simoni mold, a guy who aces every climb to cover his deficiencies in the ITT. In fact, DiLuca lost to Simoni by 20 seconds in the Torino ITT (a hilly affair), though he dusted Gibo in the earlier, flatter ride by 90 seconds.

If your TT numbers look like this, you better be a monster climber. And if your climbing consists of hanging with the lead group -- on a good day -- you better be able to bring it in the TTs. In these disciplines, so far DiLuca looks like... a guy who could win in the Ardennes.

Makeover Fever has gripped the peloton in the last couple years, with Lance fading away. Vino is now a one-race guy, and we're told DiLuca and Hincapie are trying to make the same crossover, with Boonen at least joking about it someday. I'm probably forgetting some others too. This would be fine if there weren't already some really well-qualified GC riders who can match or exceed these guys in both disciplines (Basso, Landis, Leipheimer, Ullrich for starters). Hincapie is nearing his downslope, and can be forgiven for wanting to try something different. Vino... jury's out here.

But DiLuca, as the first winner of the Pro Tour and a top Classics threat, has a lot to gain by sticking with that format for a little while. And so, while it'd be nice to see someone bring the spiral trophy back to Abruzzi, I can't fathom him getting any closer than last year's fourth place.