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Giro’09: Saturday Morning Pre-Race Chatter
Roadside St.20: “Haven’t you said enough about the Giro?” says Dave; “shouldn’t we be out listening to what other folks have to say about this race?” Yeah, yeah – now I’ve got two bosses! I listened to Dave though and set about talking with as many guys as I could get my pen and pad in front of before today’s stage start.

CLAUDIO CORTI (Italy) is Barloworld’s DS, he’s always good for a quote and had this to say when we asked him to sum up his squadra’s Giro;

“We’re happy, we’ve tried hard and been in the breaks. Soler was close to a stage win in the early mountains, but then he injured his leg. Hunter had a second, so did Cardenas; remember that only six teams from 22 have won a stage. We’ve had good TV time, so the sponsors are happy with this Giro. The team has a lot of confidence in Soler, so to lose him was a blow. The winner? It’s already won – Menchov.

ALLAN DAVIS (Australia), QuickStep fast man, we asked him if today was the day?

“I hope so! It’s our last chance for a win; I’m happy with how I’ve been going, I’ve had a second, two thirds and two fourths. Today should suit me, it’s a hard finish with a couple of K uphill. Di Luca will be the danger man, he’s after the time bonuses. If Petacchi gets there, up the climb, then he’s another, but I think it’s a stage to suit Boasson Hagen. But it’s hard to say how it will go, it might be a break, we’ll call the play on the road. It’s been very hard for breaks to go in this Giro; everyone is aware of how important it is to get stage wins. There’s pressure from management, from the sponsors; everyone wants wins – it makes for good racing and good TV viewing.”

ALAIN GALLOPIN (France) is DS at Astana, sponsor issues apart, a good Giro for the team?

“Yes, it’s good preparation for Lance for le Tour; everyone can see that he’s been good in the second part of the race. Levi is disappointed, yes, but originally he wasn’t going to be riding the Giro. He had a bad day on the long stage to Monte Petrano; I think the race would have gone differently for Levi if he hadn’t had that crash the day before the long time trial. We’re going to win the team, Levi is sixth, so it’s not so bad. The main thing is that Lance needed this race, the long stages, the mountains, three weeks of racing. The roads have been a problem, very slippery, very dangerous but apart from that, yes, a good Giro.

CHARLY WEGELIUS (GB), super domestique to Cadel Evans for le Tour, over at Lotto stopped for us today.

“Sorry I didn’t stop to say hello at Sulmona the other day, but my race radio was broken and I had to go and get it fixed. A good Giro? It’s probably nice if you’re watching on TV! Down here, in the south it’s dangerous with the state of the surface and people standing in the middle of the road – they hold their kids out in front of you. A guy actually tried to pinch my glasses from me! I was happy with how I went in the first week, but on the stages I’d picked out before the start – Bologna, Faenza, where I thought I’d be able to go with the breaks, I just wasn’t going like I wanted to. Long races are like that, you can make all the plans you like beforehand but you never know what will happen ’til you’re on the road.

Rest? On Monday I have ttt training for the Tour, with the team at Zolder. Today? I think Danilo will go for it to get the time bonus; on the bus this morning, the guys were saying that surely he wouldn’t have his team work hard for another 200 k – but they’ve been doing it for most of the Giro!”

JOHN-LEE AUGUSTYN (South Africa) of Barloworld was chuffed that his attempt to run me over, on the rest day, was up on Pez.

“Yeah, I just saw you with the camera and felt like getting up to something! The Giro hasn’t gone for me like I wanted it to go. I had a bit of a stomach bug on the rest day and I lost chunks of time after that. It’s been a hot Giro, and a hard one, but team morale is still good. I’ll try for the break today, but there are loads of guys with the same idea, all the time there’s pressure from the team to get in the break – but you need that bit of luck.”

EDVALD BOASSON HAGEN (Norway) won a stage for Columbia, early on the race.

“Today? I hope it will be a sprint but I think that Di Luca will be difficult to beat. No, I’m not riding the Tour, I’ll be having a rest after this, then coming back for the national championships. The Giro is a nice race, but some of the roads have been a bit sketchy. The stages have all been hard – maybe a little bit too hard!”

BEN SWIFT (GB) was looking relaxed as he free wheeled down from the Katusha bus.

“Yesterday? It was horrible on that Amalfi Coast road, narrow, twisty, up, down – it felt a lot faster than a 35 kph average stage. It’s a tough finish today, Di Luca will go for it because he wants the bonus. I think it might be hard for the break to go; the roads are straight so it’s difficult to get out of sight. I’ll try and get in a break, if I can – you have to try and read the combination, see if it will work. If I’m there at the finish, I’ll try for it, but we’ll need to see how the day develops.”

KEVIN SEELDRAYERS (Belgium) was looking good in his gleaming white young rider leader’s jersey, it suits the QuickStep logos perfectly.

“The Giro is going better than we expected; I have the white jersey and we’ve had good stage placings with Alan Davis; it’s all good PR for the team. The team wasn’t expected to do this well. I have two minutes on Masciarelli for the young rider classement; yesterday I was going better than him, but I didn’t want push it and explode. I have to watch him today, then it’s down to the chrono, tomorrow. I’m not really a good time trial rider, but I’m not bad; it’s not so long tomorrow and there are lots of corners, so it’s not a course to loose minutes on. Cinque Terre? I didn’t do so well there, my concentration wasn’t so good!”

PHIL DEIGNAN (Ireland) still bears the scars from his wipe out on the Blockhaus stage, when he was riding hard on the front for his Cervelo chief, Carlos Sastre.

“The front wheel just went, I could see it was a little shiny, but it was too late, I think they have marble in the chippings; a lot of the roads have been bad. I thought I was going to get away with it, but I hit a car wing mirror which had been torn off; that cut my elbow up pretty bad. Morale is super in the team- three stage wins. Carlos has really responded to the situation of being the sole team leader; he’s really taken the role on.”

JULIAN DEAN (New Zealand) is harder to spot these days, the Garmin man used to stand out in his Kiwi champion’s jersey.

“We’ve ridden a solid race, we’ve been close a couple of times; the TTT was the big objective and that was disappointing to miss. Danny Pate was a good second the other day, but he can’t be disappointed, Scarponi is very experienced and in good shape. One of our objectives here was for Tyler Farrar and I to dial in on the sprints, ready for the Tour and I think that’s worked well – Tyler has shown that he’s risen to a new level.”

FRED KESSIAKOFF (Sweden) was one of a very few bright spots for Fuji-Servetto.

“I’m happy that I was high on the GC at the start of the Giro, but disappointed that I didn’t keep that run going. On the Monte Petrano stage, I realised that I couldn’t live with the front guys and had to ease back. But it’s my first Grand Tour and my first year as a pro. Last year I was racing mountain bikes; so it’s not even my first half year of road racing. It was a coincidence, how I came to be on a Spanish team. Daniele Nardello, who was a rider with Fuji, but is a DS now, lives just a few kilometres from me in Switzerland – it was him who pushed for me to be on the team.”

ERIK BREUKINK (Netherlands) is a happy man, Denis Menchov is on his Rabobank team.

“Of course we’re happy, we’ve had more than a week in pink and two stage wins. It’s nearly won, but Di Luca will be dangerous today – he’ll be going for the bonus. Normally in the time trial you would expect Denis to be better than Di Luca, but it’s not a normal time trial, it’s short with lots of corners. Denis is cool, you have to be, in a race of three weeks, you can’t waste energy worrying. But at the same time, he’s excited – just two stages away from a Giro win. The sponsor is very happy, particularly with the team, when we came into this race, they said that the team was weak; well, they’ve all done their job!

OLEG TINKOV (Russia) was the man behind the successful pro continental team which bore his name. The team morphed into Katusha, but the story goes that Oleg and Katusha manager Andre Tchmil don’t get along – so Oleg stepped aside.

“Will I be back into pro cycling? Maybe, not next year, but when I have some money again! I’m still on my bike, I rode the whole Vesuvio stage, yesterday. The thing about a cycling team is that you don’t have income, you must have the money there. Right now, the Russian stock market is good, because the price of oil has risen; four to six months ago, it was the worst performer. It’s a great Giro for Russia, of course – I was talking to Denis this morning and he’s confident that he’ll beat all these Italians!”

How was that, Dave?


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