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PEZ Talk: Team Sky’s Dario Cioni
When we heard that PEZ regular and Sky super domestique, Dario Cioni had crashed in Paris-Nice we thought we’d better have a word with big Tuscan and see how he was doing. The only battered and bruised Cioni is in good spirits and talks Paris-Nice, Tirreno, crashes – and, oh yeah, PRIMAVERA!

PEZ: How are you, Dario?
I was lucky not to break any bones but my body didn’t like the impact of a high speed crash, so much.

PEZ: Are there any pro tricks of the trade, after a crash?
Every crash is different and has to assessed individually – the doctor does a lot of work on keeping any wounds clean, you can’t afford an infection. Generally, you want the wound to stay moist, that may take longer to heal but if a crust forms it can be very uncomfortable. Also, we work with the team osteopath to make sure that our position is OK and we’re not sitting badly on our bike to ease the injury – this can have serious consequences, later.

Dario riding hard in the Paris-Nice TT.

PEZ: How has your programme gone?
Haut Var, Insubria, Lugano and Paris – Nice. My form is OK; Paris – Nice was very hard for me in the early stages because I haven’t raced that much. It was a hard race all round – right through to the last days.

PEZ: How many times have you ridden Paris – Nice?
Five or six; I think that Paris – Nicer is harder than Tirreno because most of the Tour contenders tend to ride it.

PEZ: There’s a school of thought says you have to ride Tirreno to win the Primavera?
The statistics seem to show that, but I think it’s because the Classics guys tend to ride Tirreno anyway, because it’s more of a sprinter’s race – the Tour guys tend to go to Paris – Nice.

PEZ: Stage wins for Sky in both races.
We managed to keep the ball rolling, yes. For Paris – Nice the goals were to get Greg in a position to win a stage – which of course, he did. And for Simon Gerrans to get a good finish on GC – he was 15th in a very hard race but just seconds from the top ten. In Tirreno, Boasson Hagen won the last stage – so yes, we’re happy.

Simon Gerrans.

PEZ: Sagan was the surprise in Paris – Nice.
For sure, a big surprise, I spoke to people who followed the U23 scene last year and there was nothing to indicate that he would perform like he did – he’s the rider of the year, so far.

Peter Sagan: the story of Paris-Nice.

PEZ: The French are flying in 2010, why?
I’m not sure – I think there’s a new generation coming through and I’ve read that they are discarding old methods and adopting more scientific programmes. Francaise des Jeux for example, had more camps and at those camps they did more specific forms of training than just doing the kilometres.

PEZ: it seems Contador can win any stage race he wants.
He’s always in form, he climbs fast, he time trials well – all of that makes him hard to beat. If it’s a hill top finish he’s very, very hard to beat; the only way to get an advantage on him would be for a GC guy to go early and try and build an advantage before the climb – but that’s easier to say than it is to do!

Alberto Contador is nigh unstoppable.

PEZ: The Primavera – can Boasson Hagen win?
Of course! There are only a few riders who can win – and he’s one of them. He can climb, he’s a fast finisher and the harder the race is, the better it is for him. The only things that he lacks is experience, it’s a very long race – any pennies you spend too early, you’ll miss at the end. It’s about managing your strength, gaining experience; even if he doesn’t win but finishes with the leaders the experience is an investment for the future – it’s a race he can win, one day.

Edvald Boasson Hagen has assembled a compelling case so far this year to head into MSR as one of the big favorites.

PEZ: Cav?
A rider like him can win any sprint; I haven’t seen him this year so I don’t know if his condition is good enough. But he’s such a focussed rider it would be no surprise to me if he was there at the end.

PEZ: Can a break still succeed in the Primavera?
Usually there will be an early break but it will come back because there are so many teams with an interest. The reason teams put riders in the break is to give them an excuse not to work. But if maybe 30 guys got away early and built too much of a lead? – but I think the chances are around 100 to 1!

PEZ: Diquigiovanni look very strong to me.
Scarponi will try to do something on the Cipressa, for sure – but I don’t think he can win. Riders like Nibali and Pozzato who are fast but don’t want a bunch sprint may well go with him. I think that their Ginanni can be top ten, but not win.

Greg Henderson is another possibility for Sky in Sanremo.

PEZ: Your favourites?
Boasson Hagen and Greg Henderson too – I think he’ll be there at the end. Then there are the usual riders – you cannot not mention Boonen, then there’s Bennati, Petacchi and maybe Pozzato – I know he’s going very well.

PEZ: And will you be watching on TV?
Maybe not the whole race, but the finale – for sure!

With thanks to Dario; his next race is the Tour of Catalonia, for which we wish him luck.


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