What's Cool In Road Cycling

GIRO’08: PEZ Gets The Dirt

On Saturday, the RCS revealed a “magnifico corsa” for the 2008 Giro d’Italia. Starting in Palermo on the isle of Sicily with a 28km TTT, the race works it’s way to the foot, across the ankle, and up the Italian boot to a typically mountainous last week and the final stage TT into Milano. PEZ joined the media scrum after the presentation for immediate rider reactions…

Taking comments from the riders after the Giro presentation is a lot like trying to stop the flow of a river with your arms. Stupid? It’s not the exact word but it gives you the idea. While you try to speak with Bettini, Riccт flows on your right, while you reach Riccт there’s Cunego running away on your left. Once you get Cunego, a TV crew grabs him for the live interview… and on it goes. What follow gives maybe just an idea of what the riders think about the Giro. The truth that you won’t find on the news is that they were in a hurry to get back home!

Savoldelli, Di Luca, Simoni, Visconti, Bettini, Ricco, and Garzelli strike the pose.

When I can reach DI LUCA after having pushed through a mountain of journalists, he’s talking to a local TV: “the first finish climb of the Giro will be in Abruzzo, my region. I look forward to it, it will be my great chance to be back in Rosa.”

DiLuca likes the prospects of taking the maglia rosa on the stage 7 summit finish at Pescocostanzo in his home region of Abruzzo.

Thanks to the winner of the Giro, I look around and I see CUNEGO on my left. He’s also talking to TV “I’m very happy about the departure in Verona. The Verona – Alpe di Pampeago will be one of the most difficult stages of the next Giro and when you ride on the roads everyday you feel your strength duplicate.”

Is it your favourite one? I try, while the TV journalists give me bad looks.
“The day after there will be another very important stage in the Dolomites. There will be five climbs; that could be the right stage for me.”

Is it worst the Giau or the Marmolada which is located at last? I insist.
“I really don’t know. Let’s say that they’re two of the most difficult climbs of the entire Giro”

I feel that the TV journalist is losing his self control while I see SIMONI not far from me, left alone for a while. He must be mine!

Hey Signor Simoni, heiiii! I finally reach him.
I guess your favourite stage will be the ITT climbing the Plan the Corones?
“I know very well the Plan de Corones climb. I rode it in MTB. But my favourite stage will be the one finishing in Alpe di Pampeago. I was second there in the 1999 behind Pantani and first in the 2003 when I won the Giro. I would like to win there again for the second time as I’ve done this year on the Zoncolan.”

While I write his words in my book Simoni is surrounded by other journalists and I lose contact with him. But I have my comment and I can look for the next one. Why not SAVOLDELLI who’s speaking not far from me? I’m lucky, he’s talking about his favourite stage!

“I look forward to that one finishing on the Monte Pora (stg. 19). This stage route is designed around my valleys. I know very well the Vivione and its descent is much more selective than its climb! After the Vivione there will be no rest with La Presolana and the final climb.”

My attention is taken by that enormous human mountain equipped with cameras and microphones. Whose under that? After hundreds of please and thanks I’m in front of BETTINI talking about the stage finishing near his house (I guess it’s his favourite one but I had no chance to ask it to him directly. “I would like to thank the RCS for organizing a stage near my town. I speak about the Tuscan stage finishing in San Vincenzo. Those roads are the ones I ride everyday. It will be a stage for people who aren’t afraid to attack. A stage for me.”

Another journalist, same question same answer. I’m losing time. I see RICCO’ running away. I run behind him and I’m rewarded with few words. “There’s not a particular stage I look for or I like. All the last week is so nice! Except for the final time trial in Milan that I hate.”

But there will be also a time trial on Plan de Corones. Isn’t it interesting for you?
“[It] Will be spectacular but not decisive. Take care to the stage arriving in Cesena, it’s one of that stages you don’t consider so much but can give some surprise.”

I thank Riccт while he flies away and I cannot believe my eyes when I see POZZATO in front of me.

Will you ride the Giro next year, Pippo?
“I should.”
Any particular stage you like?
“I cannot say now if I have a stage I like; it’s too early…”
So, in this case, any stage you don’t like after this fast look?
“Probably the two high mountain stages: that one in the Dolomites finishing on the Marmolada and the other one that climbs the Mortirolo. I don’t like the mountain stages; I have no chance to win them, it’s just a suffering.”

You’re wearing a rosa tie. Would you like to change it with a same colour jersey?
“Oh no no (he laughs), I wear the rosa just because I like this colour!”

Already everybody has left. Just a few people are still inside the Theatre and behind the stage already the crew is working to take away everything. I see BALLERINI with his wife. I make my excuses to the lady and I keep the chance.

Someone says that to prepare for the Olympics it’s necessary to avoid riding the Giro. What do you think about?
“I don’t agree…. Let’s say that the favourite way could be to ride the Tour but in my opinion these are details. With the right preparation it’s possible to arrive at the Olympics through the Giro too.

Who are your favourites for this kind of route: the young as Riccт or the older as Simoni?
“One of the favourites for the next Giro will be Riccт. Cunego also is a favourite and I’m convinced he will win again a Giro in the future. Simoni will try again the challenge and we will see what this guy can do with another year on his shoulders! He has the characteristic to transform himself for the Giro d’Italia!”

I thank Ballerini and I find in front of me another excellent ex-pro. It’s him: King Mario! CIPOLLINI of course.
Mario, would you like to ride this Giro?
He looks at me more surprised than upset. Maybe he thought that all the journalists were gone…. But Mario is Mario and with a strong Tuscan accent replies: “Ahh no, please, do not make me think of that, please, too many climbs! Leave to them (the riders) this duty!!” He kicks my shoulder (I will not wash it any more) and goes.

Sr. Zomengnan about to ‘open’ the route for the 2008 Giro.

The last one I meet is the most important one. Signor ZOMEGNAN; the boss of the Giro who a few minutes ago was on that stage with a strong speech telling everybody that there won’t be any Team sure to participate! He also said that the route was designed with less climbs.

Looks that the riders don’t agree with you. They are saying that the climbs are more than last year!
“The truth is that I always thought that a route everybody likes is probably a bad route. This Giro is not designed for anybody but for everybody. There are mountains, less in number but very well located, time trials of any species, stages for those who like to attack and for the sprinters.”

That’s all. Now really everybody has left. I taste the last moments and then I think now it’s again time to dream about what can be. We have the maps, the mountains… May is not so far!

2008 Girod’Italia Stages

Giro d’Italia 2008 Stages
10 Sabato 1Є tappa PALERMO (cronometro a squadre) 28,5
11 Domenica 2Є tappa CEFALU’ – AGRIGENTO 207
12 Lunedм 3Є tappa CATANIA – MILAZZO 208
15 Giovedм 6Є tappa POTENZA – PESCHICI (circuito del Gargano) 247
16 Venerdм 7Є tappa VASTO – PESCOCOSTANZO 179
17 Sabato 8Є tappa RIVISONDOLI – TIVOLI 200
18 Domenica 9Є tappa CIVITAVECCHIA – SAN VINCENZO 194
19 Lunedм riposo
20 Martedм 10Є tappa PESARO – URBINO (cronometro individuale) 36
21 Mercoledм 11Є tappa URBANIA – CESENA 193
22 Giovedм 12Є tappa FORLI’ – CARPI 171
23 Venerdм 13Є tappa MODENA – CITTADELLA 192
25 Domenica 15Є tappa ARABBA – PASSO FEDAIA FEDAIA/MARMOLADA (Dolomiti Stars) ARMOLADA 153
26 Lunedм 16Є tappa SAN VIGILIO DI MAREBBE – PLAN DE CORONES (cronometro individuale) 13,8
27 Martedм riposo
28 Mercoledм 17Є tappa SONDRIO – LOCARNO 192
29 Giovedм 18Є tappa MENDRISIO – VARESE 182
30 Venerdм 19Є tappa LEGNANO – PRESOLANA/MONTE PORA 228
31 Sabato 20Є tappa ROVETTA – TIRANO 224
1 Domenica 21Є tappa CESANO MADERNO – MILANO (cronometro individuale) 23,5
Total KM: 3423.8

• Get full stage details at Girod’Italia.it

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