PEZ: How are the legs?
Rubens: A little tired, but that’s normal.
PEZ: Did you have anyone for the sprint stages and are you happy with how they went?
Rubens: We don’t have anyone for the sprints, no. My job was to look after our Gilberto Simoni, keep him out of trouble; it was important to make sure that he didn’t lose any seconds – It was good, because we achieved that.
Rubens Bertogliati has to be feeling good about riding the Giro – it wasn’t but a little while ago that he was without a team, because of the Telteck-H2O debacle.
Dario: For the team, Visconti was close on stage three and we had Stannard in the break; with Oscar Gatto sixth and seventh on the two sprint stages. But for me, it was not so good, I came down in the crash and then had mechanicals, so I had to chase back; the early stages are always dangerous.
PEZ: I heard criticism of the dangerous finales for the sprints.
Rubens: Yes, I think that the roads were very narrow for a 200 man peloton; things will improve now though because there aren’t that many fast finishes – Milano, but that’s on wide roads. Rider security is much better at the Tour de France – it’s much safer.
Dario Cioni in the new ISD kit.
Dario: The problem is that when there is a crash with one or two guys on a narrow road, it blocks the road. They are not the best finishing circuits for the start of a Grand Tour, as the race goes on, less guys contest the sprints, but at the start when everyone is fresh, the finishes are hectic.
PEZ: Your GC man, and how is he doing?
Rubens: Gilberto Simoni; he lost a little time today, but not too much, not as much as Cunego or Armstrong.
Rubens’ job is to tend to Gibo for as long as possible.
Dario: We haven’t got a real GC man – I will try to do as well as possible, I’m riding consistently and we need a good CG place so the team car does not end up at the back of the convoy! The team will be going in the breaks; we must be seen to be in the race.
PEZ: Worrying moments?
Rubens: No, until now, all is going well; I was caught in the wrong side of the split on stage three but apart from that we’ve ridden well. We had men in the breaks on both the mountains stages so we don’t have to take the initiative back in the peloton.
Dario: No, it’s been good until now, we’ve had guys in breaks; we did a good team time trial – for a smaller budget team in its first Grand Tour it’s good.
PEZ: Is management happy?
Rubens: Yes, the team is happy; Simoni was fifth, yesterday and is still well placed. He’s a man who will come into his element in the third week; it’s not a Giro designed to suit his characteristics, with the mountains coming so early.
Dario: We know we have no GC guy, but we have Visconti, he’s a very good all rounder and capable of winning a stage. We must get in the breaks and have TV time, otherwise the sponsors are not happy – they want to see you in the race.
Giovanni Visconti isn’t a GC guy, but he has a good shot at a stage somewhere along the way.
PEZ: Are you content with your own riding?
Rubens: Until now, I am happy; I am riding strongly with no problems and am happy to be helping my team. The next stages are suitable for breakaways and I hope to get in one; but you need two things to get in the right break, good legs – and good luck!
Dario: I was riding well until April, then I had few health problems, but I started to come back to form after the Tour of Trentino; I’m hoping that I can improve as the Giro goes on.
PEZ: Your thoughts on Lance?
Rubens: I saw that yesterday and today, he was suffering a little; but for a man who broke his collar bone only one month ago he is doing very well. If he hadn’t had that crash then I think he’s be a contender for victory – the mountain stages in this Giro were designed to suit his characteristics.
Lance is still Lance!
Dario: Lance is still Lance! He brings the media to the race and he’s riding well; but better yesterday than today. The GC guys are trying to hurt him – they know that as the race progresses, he’ll get stronger. They don’t want to go into the third week with him just a minute down; he’ll win a stage before the finish, I’m sure of that.
PEZ: Do you think his presence has boosted the number of spectators?
Rubens: I think his presence has given the Giro more importance and awareness of the race is much higher in the USA, now. At the start in Venice, there were many more English speaking voices than you would normally expect to hear.
The number of spectators certainly isn’t smaller than in years past.
Dario: Yeah, and more media. He’s not just a cyclist now, he has a much higher level of awareness – the TV is here from countries which wouldn’t normally cover the Giro.
PEZ: Can Di Luca go all the way in pink?
Rubens: He’s really strong and a smart guy; he can win in the sprints and there are several more stages with finishes which suit him. These give him the opportunity to snatch time bonuses; for me he is one of the top favourites – his weakness is the time trial, but it’s not a normal time trial!
When he is good, he is very good…
Dario: That’s the question that the other GC guys will be asking. When he is good, he is very good and can be so for a long time; Ivan Basso will be worried about Danilo picking up those time bonuses. Basso is for me still the favourite, along with Leipheimer, who has been quiet and is waiting to attack – or for the time trial; he won’t be able to hide for that.
PEZ: It’s fast and furious very early; do you think there are riders who will pay a price for this?
Rubens: It’s a possibility; if you are going strong in the first week then it’s hard to maintain that through into the second, then third week. However, the GC is now defined – very early in the race – and that takes away a lot of stress; already guys are 20 minutes and more done, this means that there is much more opportunity for breakaways – with a bit of luck!
Dario: Of course. In the first week you have the riders who are good in the one day classics and maybe the real GC guys don’t sparkle so much – but in the third week, you’ll see a lot more of them.
Quote of the race so far goes to Dario, then; “Lance is still Lance!”
For sure! We’ll be talking to Rubens and Dario again at the weekend and wish them well for the forthcoming stages.