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Giro’09: Liquigas’ Kjell Carlstrom Checks in
Just before the Giro rolled out of Venice on its epic three-week, 3400km hellride to Rome, Liquigas’ Kjell Carlstrom gave us the inside track on how his team was planning for the Corsa Rosa. With many long, hot days done, and with five more hard stages to come, how is he feeling now?

PEZ: Hi, Kjell. First of all, how are doing? You’ve been working hard…
Kjell: Today I was tired. Yesterday was a really, really long stage (to Monte Petrano). Hot, and also a lot of up and down, so today I was tired … but in general I feel OK.

You won’t be seeing any long-sleeve jerseys anytime soon.

PEZ: What was your ‘rest day’ like today?
Kjell: We went out for a little bit more than an hour. Just an easy ride to spin the legs a little bit.

PEZ: Yesterday, to Monte Petrano, you were off the front in the break for a long time. Was that the plan?
Kjell: The plan was exactly that, to go into the break and try to get as far as possible to then help Ivan (Basso) and Franco (Pellizotti) in the final kilometres.

PEZ: The plan didn’t quite succeed in the end …
Kjell: (Laughing) Unfortunately bike racing is very unpredictable! But at least he showed that he could attack and that is also important even though it didn’t go all the way.

Basso has tried, but so far – no luck. He’ll have to keep on the attack to have any chance against the likes of Di Luca and Menchov.

PEZ: Basso also tried to break away on stage 15 to Faenza. It looks like he is really trying things, and maybe the others are taking advantage of his work?
Kjell: Yeah, it’s possible … he’s one of the only riders that has really tried serious attacks. Of course (Carlos) Sastre also tried yesterday and he got the stage. Some of the riders can take advantage but that’s the game. If you want to try and win the Giro you have to attack and improvise when the time comes.

PEZ: We’ve seen you driving things hard, in the break yesterday, and also working on the front on the stage to Faenza …
Kjell: Well, that’s part of my work. It’s been … well, not so much work this year because if we had had a jersey then it would have been a lot more work, that’s for sure. That’s just part of my job, and that’s OK for me. So far, in my opinion, it’s gone really good.

PEZ: Maybe Pellizotti and Basso can still try something as they’re both top five right now?
Kjell: Yeah, they will still try something. The only problem is that days are running out. If nothing else, then a maybe stage win or a placing. You never know what can happen.

PEZ: Basso’s your roommate. Is he easy to share with?
Kjell: He’s calm, so it’s no problem for us!

PEZ: Going back to stage 13 to Florence, did you see the Carlstrom fans?
Kjell: I saw some of them, especially when we went through Montelupo Fiorentino where I live. It was really nice, and it gives you morale when you see that.

The oppressive heat has defined the last week of racing.

PEZ: Blockhaus is a short but tough day tomorrow, 79kms … will you look at the climb before hand?
Kjell: Tomorrow morning, we will probably do a little bit of riding. Then come back to the hotel and eat some pasta, then we’ll do the race.
Pellizotti and Basso checked out the climb today and they’re OK with it. For the other guys it’s not that important to go and check it out. We know what our job is.

PEZ: Friday’s stage 19 to Vesuvio could be the last opportunity to change things…
Kjell: We will see what kind of tactics our directeur sportif will come up with for that stage, but I think there are still things that we can try.

PEZ: Who has impressed you so far?
Kjell: Denis Menchov, for sure. He’s been the best one. But also young guys like Boasson Hagen, Lovkvist and Seeldrayers … they’ve all done really well in my opinion.

Kevin Seeldrayers already has the Best Young Rider award from Paris-Nice to his credit in 2009. The Giro appears to be next.

PEZ: Now you’re looking forward to getting to Rome with some success for the team …
Kjell: Yeah, that would be prefect. A personal stage win would be nice but it’s not so easy!

And with that, we let Kjell get back to resting up before the stage 17 explodes from Chieti to Blockhaus. It should be an epic. Big thanks to Kjell and we wish him a safe ride through. You can catch all the info, race report and roadside action here on Pez, so don’t touch that dial!


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