We spoke to Dario as the Liquigas bus picked its way down the mountain from La Thuile after a wet finale which saw little Leonardo Piepoli pull a stage-win-rabbit out of the hat for a no-doubt delighted Saunier Duval management. Ivan Basso meanwhile strengthened his grip on the maglia rosa with second on the stage; and for our boy?
Pez; “It was wet today Dario did it affect your back injury?”
Dario; ‘It only rained in the last 30 kilometres today and by that time my muscles had loosened off although it was very cold at the top. I crashed again yesterday and my neck muscles were aching at the start today.’
Pez; “What happened?”
Dario; ‘A Discovery rider ran off the road then came back into the middle of the group taking guys off, someone went down right in front of me, there was nothing I could do, it’s quite hard for the morale, especially since I am still recovering from the first crash.
Dario is feeling a little bit better on the climbs.
There are three of us in Liquigas affected by crashes now, Vladimir Miholjevic is still suffering, he was hit by a team car after he crashed, and Andrea Noe came off in the time trial.
It’s strange but my back and neck don’t hurt as much on the climbs as they do on the flat where I suffer more.’
Pez; “So how did the stage go for you today – the profile looked like it climbed virtually all the way until that last drop to the finish?”
Dario; ‘It wasn’t so bad in the beginning, in fact the first 50 kilometres were very fast, 53/54 kilometres per hour, it slowed after 70 K and that was when the break went, after that CSC rode tempo but when the serious climbing started I just rode at my own pace, I simply couldn’t stay with the leaders but I finished quite strongly.’
Pez; “Franco Pellizotti had a good day, is it coming to a point where the team may ride for him instead of Danilo Di Luca?”
Dario; ‘Already we are riding for both of them, Franco is going OK, I have not seen all the standings yet but I think he is sixth on GC; the only way for Danilo now is to go on the attack himself or get in a break to get time back.’
Even with the unfortunate luck he’s had so far, Dario is keeping his head up.
Pez; “Were you surprised that Piepoli took the stage?”
Dario; ‘No, he was the only one who could follow Basso over the summit, but on the descent he would take risks in the wet which the maglia rosa would not, Basso would be taking no chances, he had already done the damage to the other GC guys.’
Pez; “How is team morale?”
Dario; ‘Despite the crashes it is still quite good; the stage win helped of course.’
Pez; “What about Sunday’s stage, how do you see it developing?”
Dario; ‘I have not studied the parcours closely, but there are two big climbs, one early and one late in the day, there is a valley road between them where we go into Switzerland, I think a break will go there.’
Monday’s stage is one for the sprinters so we’ll talk to Dario after Tuesday’s brutal stage to Monte Bondone and its mountain-top finish.