PEZ: Are you familiar with the Worlds courses, Rubens?
Rubens: Yes, I know them both very well, Mendrisio is only 15 kilometres from my home in Lugano; I raced and won on these roads when I was young rider. The time trial course is not technical; it is one for the specialists, the lap is 16.6 kilometres with one climb, there are only 120 metres of elevation per lap – elite riders cover three laps. It is a course for Cancellara; I think that David Millar and Bradley Wiggins are perhaps the only two riders to challenge him, but you saw Cancellara in the Vuelta time trials – he was so strong.
PEZ: And the road race?
Rubens: The circuit is short; last year the lap was 18 kilometres, this year it is only 13.8 kilometres, to be covered 19 times. The circuit gives you no time to recover; the climbs in themselves do not seem difficult, but the last five or six laps will be very hard. On the second climb, I think that the gear will be 39 x 21 with the strong riders on the 19, perhaps. It is for the man with a strong sprint after a lot of climbing – the total climbing is 4,655 metres over the 262 kilometres.
Rubens: I think that it is likely a Vuelta contender will win; a stage race like that gives you form that no amount of training can. It is a circuit that will suit Valverde; with Cunego also one of the favourites – but when you look at how Boasson Hagen has gone in Britain, he must be considered. It’s the end of a long season; at the start of the year many, many riders have good form and are going well; but now there are fewer riders who are capable of winning.
PEZ: Your team mate, Scarponi has had a good year.
Rubens: Yes, he is selected for the Worlds – he wants to win!
PEZ: You are riding both races.
Rubens: Normally, I prefer to ride both, I think that if you make a strong effort in the time trial on the Thursday, this helps your preparation for the road race on the Sunday.
PEZ: What would you consider good rides?
Rubens: In the time trial I would like to make the top 15; the top ten would be special. I think last year I was 24th in the road race; I would like to improve upon that.
PEZ: Are the Worlds still ‘special’ for you?
Rubens: I have been a professional for many years; but the World Championships are a big event and it’s always an honour to ride them – especially in front of a home crowd, where people know me and will be cheering for me.
PEZ: Are you happy with how 2009 has gone?
Rubens: Yes, I was happy with how I went through the Giro and up until the Swiss championships, I had a few problems during the summer but now I am coming back to my best form.
PEZ: How has Diquigiovanni been for you?
Rubens: The team has been absolutely right for me; remember that in the middle of February I had no team – H2O had fallen through and I was wondering what I what I was going to do. I owe thanks to Savio and the management staff at Diqui for giving me giving me a contract.
PEZ: What was the highlight of your year?
Rubens: To win the Swiss time trial championship; that was very satisfying and to wear the national champion’s jersey is a dream come true.
PEZ: Are you racing right to the end of the season?
Rubens: Oh yes, Diquigiovanni is an Italian team and the home programme is very important; we have the Giro del Lazio, Coppa Sabatini, Giro dell’Emilia, Milano-Torino, Giro de Piemonte and Giro di Lombardia. My season ends the day after Lombardia; October 18th in the Chrono des Nations – I was fifth last year and hope for a good performance.
PEZ: Then it’s your winter break.
Rubens: Yes, I will have three or four weeks off; but I do other activities, I go swimming and mountain walking. I like to start early, mid-November, this is because if the weather becomes bad then you have already kilometres in.
Rubens has been a pro for ten years – and he’s just as keen as ever to race his bike.
PEZ: Ten years a pro – still as keen?
Rubens: Perhaps I am more selective about my programme; but yes, still very enthusiastic!
With thanks to Rubens for his time; he’ll be talking to us again after the time trial and road race.