Bertogliati was a talented junior, he won the Giro della Toscana twice in that category.
He turned pro with Lampre in 2000 and the following year rode the Tour and finished on the podium of the Swiss time trial championships.
It was 2002 when he pulled off the performance with which he is probably best associated – rocketing out of the peloton at the end of the Tour de France’s first stage to take the win and the maillot jaune.
That season also saw him win the GP Chiasso and in season 2003, his last with Lampre, he won the Gianetti criterium as well as riding his first Vuelta.
In 2004 he was riding for Mauro Gianetti at Saunier Duval, staying with the various incarnations of the team until 2008.
During that period he rode the Giro and Tour plus just about every major stage race there is – Germany, Switzerland, Catalonia, the Circuit of the Sarthe, Eneco, Tirreno, Romandie…
He was in the colours of Gianni Savio’s Androni Giocatolli squadra for 2009 and 10 – winning the Swiss time trial championship both years.
Bertogliati en route to a runner-up finish on a stage of the Giro.
Last year he signed with Phil Southerland’s Team Type 1 organisation and was instrumental in team mate Alexander Efimkin’s fine overall win in the Presidential Tour of Turkey.
PEZ caught up with Bertogliati the day after Joaquim Rodriguez’s win in Fleche Wallonne to get the Swiss rider’s view of the race and ‘life after European teams.’
PEZ: Ciao, Rubens! How was 2011 for you and the team?
Rubens Bertogliati: It was a good year for me and the team – for the team’s first year in Europe I think they did a good job.
This year so far has been good for the team with gaining strong placings and good presence in the moves of the day.
But I’m not at my best yet, I haven’t raced enough, I’ve had a good one day programme but I need stage races to bring me to form.
Rubens in action.
PEZ: I see you started your season in New Zealand.
RB: Yes, the New Zealand Cycle Classic, it’s an UCI 2.2 race – it was good to see how the sport is developing on the other side of the world.
PEZ: Tell us about the Fleche, please.
RB: I was hoping for a better result, I was the only one from the team with prior experience of the race, but crashed after 70 kilometres.
I had to chase hard to get back after that and missed the split.
I like these races in the Ardennes but you have to be at the front if you want to be involved.
Purito Rodriguez was the strongest but I don’t think it would have been impossible for me to be in that front group at the finish, if it hadn’t been for the crash.
PEZ: It must be tough being in a Pro Continental squad lining up against the Pro Tour teams?
RB: Yes, it’s a race where you must stay near the front, if the wind changes suddenly then the race could be over in one kilometre.
This means that the big names fight hard for position at the front which makes for a very difficult race.
The roads were slippery, too – which is OK if you know the parcours, but if you don’t then it’s very dangerous.
The majority of the riders lining up at the start have done Pais Vasco and Catalunya – so they’re in good shape and have good skills and race rhythm.
PEZ: Can you win if you’re Pro Continental against Pro Tour?
RB: It’s possible but hard – you have to be really well prepared and strong.
Cervelo Test Team did a good job, but they had strong guys and a good programme.
Team Type 1 have acquitted themselves well in the biggest races this spring.
PEZ: How tough is the Mur de Huy?
RB: I used 39 x 25 but only for the hardest part which lasts about 400 metres – at that length you just use power to get over.
It’s always crowded on the climb – but the Spring Classics are like that.
Everyone is concentrating on getting the right position – you have to be in good form but concentrating on positioning is vital.
PEZ: The finale has been the same these last few years – with decent sized groups fighting it out.
RB: They changed the course to make it more for the powerful riders – before it was more of a race for the climbers and breakaway riders.
It’s harder now with more climbs before the Mur – but they’re not so long so it’s possible to get back and that means bigger groups at the end.
PEZ: Team Type 1 – how have things changed from last year?
RB: It’s all good – we have some new riders but the programme is developing too.
Coming up we have the Tours of Korea and Turkey as well as Liege-Bastogne-Liege.
It’s a very demanding programme but a very good one – I have the Tours of Norway, Lorraine, Switzerland, Austria and Poland.
I’m especially looking forward to riding my home tour.
Team Type 1 had Alessandro Bazzana in the break at Liege-Bastogne-Liege on Sunday.
PEZ: What’s it like being on a US team after all those years with Euro squads?
RB: It’s a good team to be on because it’s not just about the racing, we have a good reason to be participating – we have five guys with diabetes who set an example to people who have the disease.
The team is aggressive, we’re always in the breaks –but it’s always going to be hard for a US team coming to Europe for the first time, but I think we’re building it well.
PEZ: Your thirteenth season – what are the biggest changes you’ve seen?
RB: I think it’s more open now, but the races are more competitive, there’s never an easy start to a race these days – its full gas from the gun.
Having said that I think that it’s possible for young riders to come in and do well right away.
Bazzana representing Team Type 1 on the Cote de St. Roch on Sunday.
PEZ: How is the motivation holding up after all those seasons?
RB: My motivation to train is still strong; I like to get out my bike.
It’s perhaps harder to motivate yourself to fight for position in the smaller races – but it’s no problem in the races which I like.
I have strong motivation at the moment for my home tour and for our National Championships, which always want to do well in.
PEZ: Liege-Bastogne-Liege, the team did well to get an invite.
RB: It’s a very important race for us, we want to do well, leave our mark.
We’ll be trying hard to be represented in the early move – but it’s a race where you can’t use too much energy too early, the second part of the race is the hardest.
But nevertheless, we want to be involved!