PEZ: “How are the war wounds?”
Dario: ‘Getting better, the masseur and physiotherapist have been working with me and I can put down power through both legs now, before I was a mess, I could only pedal with one leg and my back was hurting. I even tried to stay with the lead group at the start of the final climb today but they started the ascent very fast.’
PEZ: “Is the time-cut a worry when you are in the grupetto?”
Dario: ‘On Sunday (stage won by Laverde) I had a lot of problems early on and couldn’t ride at full power, I was OK at a medium level so I was in the grupetto on the first climb, we got back on the descent but was dropped again on the second climb. It’s the older, more experienced guys who figure-out what you need to do to beat the cut, It wasn’t an issue on Sunday though, it was a long stage and the worst climb was at the end; it’s on short stages with a climb around half way that you have to push it.’
Dario conserves some energy for his two-up break the next day to Plan de Corones.
PEZ: “I see that Casar jumped above Franco Pellizotti on GC on that stage, was that a concern for the team?”
Dario: ‘No, because he only took the time in a break that made a big gain so it’s to be expected that he’ll loose that time again. It’s different with someone like Belli, he’s so experienced that he’ll hang on to the time and his morale will be good now too.’
PEZ: “Monday was a flat sprint stage (won by Bettini) how did that go?”
Dario: ‘In a stage like that you just try to save energy, the break was never going to go, it maybe had a one percent chance of staying away, it’s different in a one day race you can try things like that, but in a stage race you should only go with a break if you think it has at least a 50% chance of success. At the end there were three sprinter’s teams riding to bring them back’
Cioni played it smart and avoided the doomed break on the day.
PEZ: “Basso was impressive today.”
Dario: ‘I think he has almost won, he is in control, he does not appear to be hurting at all.’
PEZ: “Pellizotti rode well again today, is a podium possible?”
Dario: ‘Yes he did a good ride today, the podium is still open – there are hard stages still to come and people will begin to crack.’
PEZ: “Danilo was hurting again today.”
Dario: ‘I think that the podium is gone for him and it will be very difficult for him to get in a break because CSC keep on top of any move that it is dangerous.’
The chances for Cioni Liquigas team still look good with Pellizotti sitting high atop GC.
PEZ: “Gutierrez is proving to be a surprise.”
Dario: ‘I knew he was a good rider but I didn’t think he was at that level although I still have doubts about his being on the podium at the finish, he is a big rider and the mountain stages to come will mean he has to expend a lot more energy than the lightly-built climbers.’
PEZ: “Tomorrow is the stage to Plan de Corones what is the plan for gearing?”
Dario: ‘I ride 177.5 cranks but Campagnolo do not do a compact version in that length so I will ride to the bottom of the last climb where I will change bikes onto a machine with a compact triple and 175 cranks; that way I am only riding the climb on the shorter cranks, you have to be really careful changing crank lengths because it can lead to knee injuries. The lowest ratio will be 34 x 29 – maybe I should ride it on my mountain bike?’
Because it is such an important stage we’ll be talking to Dario again after the Corones stage, he reckons it will be; ‘interesting!’