This report originally recorded in January 2007
Sometimes the interview game is a difficult one, even without the language
barrier. There’s a young Italian journo at the next table interviewing Italian
mountain-man Leonardo Piepoli. There’s no language difficulty, but the little climber maybe only gives him a dozen sentences.
Despite his tiny stature, Piepoli is a big personality and you always hear him before you see him, point a microphone at him and he gets quiet – maybe it was the six hours he did today? Having witnessed this performance it’s with a bit of trepidation that I approach the second of my ‘big three’ interviews – Millar, Simoni and Mayo.
Simoni and Piepoli go 1-2 atop the feared Zoncolan at this year’s Giro.
Simoni is small and despite this being the start of his 14th season as a pro
he looks youthful and fresh, he smiles a lot but as one of his team mates
said; ‘he’s on “Planet Gilbo”, all the best guys are a little “different” aren’t they?
I’ve been watching him being interviewed, he loses interest quickly, but I
remember a tip that the mighty Pez gave me; ‘he likes talking about girls!’
Here we go:
Pez: You are entering your 14th season what’s good and what’s bad about that?
GS: It would take a book to tell you, but I can tell you that I am still
very highly motivated to race and to win, I still have dreams.
Pez: You had 12 seasons in Italian squadra, how does Saunier compare?
GS: It is a good team, the ambience is good and I am happy here.
Pez: How many more seasons?
GS: I take each season as it comes, I think in the ‘now’ not the future,
like I say I am still very highly motivated to train, race and win; six hours training today and six hours training tomorrow but I have no problems with this.
(He’s still smiling, body language is OK, he’s not moving around on his seat
but has plucked his cell phone from his pocket, a bad sign, fire in the humour, Ed.)
Pez: What about the ladies who helped you out of you canoe last night at the presentation, they were ‘bella’?
GS: It was a spectacular presentation, the team organized something
different and good last night, and I enjoyed it very much. I have ridden with teams where this amount of thought and effort did not go into the team launch so I am very happy about being part of last night. And yes, the ladies were beautiful too.
Pez: What is your programme for 2007?
GS: My programme is always based on a good ride in the Giro, but I start in Murcia in March, everything from there is aimed to getting me to the Giro in my best shape.
Piz: Have you reconnoitered the Zoncolan climb yet?
GS: Yes, I have seen it, people say that it is the hardest in Europe but I
think it depends upon a lot of factors, for example the stage length, the weather and how hard the stage is being raced. I think that the Angliru, here in Spain is very tough too, it’s all relative.
Pez: Do you worry abut any conflicts with Iban over leadership.
GS: No, my main target is the Giro, Iban’s will be the Vuelta, if he rides
the Giro, it will be to learn, it’s a very different race to the Vuelta. I have no worries about any situation like that with this team, it is only false people you have to worry about and I think we have none in this team. As for Iban, he is a fine rider who is hoping to have a rebirth with this team; he has achieved something that I have always dreamed about in cycling – to win at l’Alpe d’Huez.
Pez: What’s your opinion on the Pro Tour/Grand Tours dispute?
GS: No comment.
(He’s moving around a little and playing with his cell phone, we’ll try more
Pez: Did you send Cunego a Christmas card?
(Oops! Talk about the bike, that’ll put us back on track.)
Scott bikes custom painted one-off Addicts for Simoni, Piepoli (seen here), and Mayo.
Pez: What is your opinion on your new Scott and the SRAM groupset?
GS: Last year the bike was very good and as light as possible and then this year they make it even lighter; but there are the weight problems with the UCI – so . . . .
He’s no equipment fanatic; he’s the only guy in the squad who I’ve spoken to that didn’t get over-the-top excited about the Addict and the SRAM groupset.
Pez: What’s your opinion on Discovery signing Basso?
GS: It’s their business…
(Time to quit.)
Pez: Can I have few pictures?
And he clowns for the camera, but he’s back on Planet Gibo; but maybe
That’s where you have to be to win the Giro twice?
• SaunierDuvalTeam.com website.
• SCOTTUSA website.