What's Cool In Road Cycling

Garzelli Interview: PCN Exclusive!

In this rare interview, our own Michele Tomasi talked with Giro d’Italia winner and loser Stefano Garzelli about his past, present, and future…

1. How did you get started in bicycle racing?
SG – I started cycling at 10 years old, it was1983, in my town’s team, Polisportiva Besanese . My brother Marco raced in another team, and so by following him, I started too.

2. What motivated you to become a professional bike racer?
SG – Year by year I saw that I got some good results, and when I was 20 years old, I started to think about the possibility of becoming pro, and so I continued to work with that dream, that I realized at 23 years old.

3. What do you learn as a professional racer that is valuable in other areas of your life?
SG – Bike racing, not only as a pro, teaches you to work hard, to have respect for every person but at the same time, respect for yourself, and to work to achieve at your objective. It’s really hard but when you reach your targets you are really satisfied.

4. If you were not a professional racer, what do you think you would be doing?
SG – I never thought to do any other job besides cycling; but I think I could be working with plastic materials, as I studied for it until I was 19 years old.

5. What were your main objectives for the season.?
SG – My main objectives were Giro d’Italia, and after, by checking my condition in June, either the Tour de France or Vuelta de Espana.

6. How are you living this difficult moment of your career?
SG – It’s really hard for me, also because I know that I didn’t do what I’ve been kicked out of Giro for, and lose all the season.

7. Did you start to train?
SG – I worked and I’ve also been for 10 days in Livigno ( an Italian city near the Swiss border ) and on the Stelvio because I thought that I could return to the races after the decision of Swiss Federation. But, unluckily even though I said that I didn’t intentionally take the Probenecid, I still got a very heavy suspension.

8. When will you know about the result of Swiss Antidoping Section?
SG – I got the result last 26 July, but I decided to appeal al so they know I’m not guilty. But the regulations say that even if a sports man isn’t guilty he must be punished anyway.

9. After the Giro you seemed ready to leave cycling. Do you still want cycling?
SG – As I said before, the wish to run was returned, but after the sentence it went away again; we will see after the appeal at TAS, but if they will confirm it, I will leave cycling.

10. If you could say something to your supporters, what would you like to say them?
SG – That I’m a rider that achieved results by working hard and in the years, by giving up, as do all my mates, so many things that a normal guy of 25-30 years old can do freely. But I’m glad of my choice because of the satisfactions that my job gives me, that I think it’s the nicest one, hardly I could have by doing something other. I really hope that the supporters will continue on supporting me and above all cycling.

11. At the moment, if I’m not wrong, you’re without team. Do you already know about your future? Did you get any contact from any team?
SG – At the moment I’m not without team, I still have the contract with Mapei for next year. In this moment we are waiting for the result of the appeal at TAS, and I know that the managers of new Quick Step want to keep me for next year. But it will depend on what it will happen in the next 2 months.

12. Which of the 3 Grand Tours is your favourite and why?
SG – I’ve never raced the Vuelta and so I cannot have a judgment on this race, but both the Giro and Tour, are for me the most important races; I like both but I think that the general route of the Tour is more right for me, as I prefer more the long hills and less steep climbs.

13. Is there a race which you like more in UCI’s calendar?
SG – Tour is the most important race and I hope that next year I could run it at the max of my condition, something that until now I never did.

14. Before a race do you follow any specific routine or ritual for good luck?
SG – Nothing particular, just try to find ever the right concentration for every race.

15. Do you have any favourite champion of the present and/or the past?
SG – For me the number one was Miguel Indurain, I’ve been really impressed by what he did and we born on the same day, 16 July and in 1999 when I won GP Navarra – Miguel Indurain, I wasreally glad to receive the prize from him.

16. What advice would you give to a young rider looking to be successful in the pro peloton?
SC – To work hard and to never give up. If you want to become a pro rider, you can do it, but you must know that the road to get there is really hard, long and difficult.

17. Have you visited North America?
SC – I’ve never been in North America, but I would like to see for sure Canada and the Ontario Area.

18. Cycling is gaining in popularity in North America, what do you think can be done to make it even more popular here and around the world?
SC – Unluckily cycling is mostly an European sport also if today the number one is Lance Armstrong, a great “American” rider; for make it even more popular there it means do more races, for attract the passion of the peoples: unluckily on television cycling doesn’t give all the emotions that there is on real. It will be ok also just little races for start, but it needs anyway a good budget.

19. Do you have a personal website that our readers could visit?
SC – My site is www.garzelli.com and I hope a lot of people will visit it. Anyway I must say that I receive a lot of requests and questions from all the American Continent.

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