Dario Cioni (Predictor/Lotto & Italy) former Italian time trial champion and Pez’s Pro Tour diarist.
PEZ: You look skinnier than last year!
Dario: Yes, I hope so!
PEZ: How was the TTT for Lotto?
Dario: It was a course that required a lot of concentration. We knew we couldn’t win, so the main thing was to get round in a reasonable time without any crashes.
PEZ: Stage two was good for you.
Dario: At the start we hoped it might stay together but we weren’t sure, Liquigas did a lot of the work and that was good for us. At 40/45 to go, when the break had around two minutes, I knew it would come back. When I saw Robbie on Petacchi’s wheel coming into the finale, I was quite confident he would win.
A stage win already, the Maglia Ciclamino…life is good at Predictor-Lotto.
PEZ: Did you have to do much to help Robbie?
Dario: Like I said, Liquigas did a lot of the work but we wanted to keep Robbie at the front on the big descent so we could see what was going-on up-front so I did a fair bit of work to keep him in a good position.
PEZ: Your Giro goals?
Dario: It’s too soon to say, I skipped Romandie because I was a little sick after Liege, so I’m not sure about my form. I’m happy I’ve done some good work already in the first two days, so we’ll just take it day by day. In the early stages of the Giro when everyone is fresh there is a lot of action – we’ll see what happens when it settles down a little.
Nicolas Roche (CA & Ireland), up and coming off-spring of Giro/Tour/Worlds treble winner in 1987, Stephen Roche.
PEZ: Is this what you always wanted to do, Nicolas?
Nicolas: I first raced when I was 12, but I decided definitely that I wanted to be a pro when I was 18. I’m pro now but that’s just the first part of it, you have to stay pro and then try and become a good pro, so there’s still a long way to go.
PEZ: Your first big Tour.
Nicolas: Yes, ever since I’ve known I was selected for the Giro I’ve been putting pressure on myself that I have to perform. It’s funny, but after we’d ridden a tryout on the TTT course, I really settled-down and became more relaxed.
PEZ: What did you think of the TTT?
Nicolas: I thought that it was going to be difficult and dangerous after the rehearsal, but when we actually raced it, full-on, it didn’t seem nearly so bad because we were concentrating at 100%.
PEZ: What about stage 2?
Nicolas: The parcours were very difficult but I kept near the front all day, I slipped-back a bit on the finishing circuit, but I was quite pleased with my ride.
PEZ: Thor Hushovd; here to win stages or just get fit for the Tour?
Nicolas: I hope he’s here to win stages! He’s not keen on the heat and it was very hot yesterday. I have orthopedic insoles in my shoes and I drilled holes in them last night to try and let some air in to my feet, they were on fire at the finish yesterday.
It hasn’t been all that happy of a Giro so far for Thor Hushovd. There’s a long way to go though.
PEZ: CA goals for the Giro?
Nicolas: We have three climbers in the team, so were looking for a decent GC finish from one of them – and maybe a stage win.
PEZ: And your goals for the race?
Nicolas: I have a couple of things in mind. Firstly, I want to try and get into one of those moves they let go in the second week. Secondly, I want to choose a mountain stage and not just sit-up and think; “grupetto” but see what I can actually do in the mountains. Thirdly, I want to just see how I perform in a three week Tour and how I come out of it.
PEZ: Are you getting much attention because it’s the 20th anniversary of your dad’s win?
Nicolas: The Gazzetta did a little piece the other day, but most of the interest has come from Ireland, the press are starting to remember it’s the anniversary. I’ve always had a lot of interest about my dad, that’s just the way it has always been, I’m used to it and I’m very proud of him.
Stevie Cummings (Discovery & GB), one of the best team pursuiters in the world and rapidly building a rep at Discovery as a strong-man.
PEZ: Is the pro life what you expected, Steve?
Steve: Pretty-much, I was with Landbou before Discovery and the move up into the Pro Tour level has been great. There’s so much more support in terms of soigneurs, mechanics and equipment. Landbou wasn’t a bad team, but they didn’t have this kind of budget. I’m enjoying the Pro Tour racing more too, it’s more structured and I find it easier to read. I’m here to do a job and if I can do what I’m asked, then that’s what I do.
PEZ: Tell us about the TTT.
Steve: I’m from that type of background, so it suited me but it was a really difficult course. I did a big spell on a descent then we went straight into a climb; I went to 110 % and was there for the rest of the race. I had to miss a few turns to try and recover but I got round OK. I think Popo grounded a pedal when he crashed, but I’m not really sure.
PEZ: What are the Disco goals for the 2007 Giro?
Steve: To protect Popo and try and get him into a good GC finish, plus maybe a stage win if we get the chance.
PEZ: And your goals?
Steve: To do my job – and finish!
PEZ: Any comment on the Podium girls?
Steve: I’ve been taking advice from Whitey (Disco’s Aussie stalwart, Matt White) and he says you have to go in easy, just say ‘hello’ then leave it a day or two before you say anything else. He reckons the Italian guys go in too hard and too quick!
[PEZ Sez: Now where else you gonna get that kind of insight…?]