What's Cool In Road Cycling

GIRO’17 Roadside PEZ: Heather Meets Giovanni!

Roadside Interview Giro’17: Newest member of the PEZ crew, Heather Morrison, has been thrown into the Giro d’Italia pool at the deep end this weekend. She does have plenty of Grand Tour and Classics experience, but from the other side of the barriers.

Heather landed in Italy on Wednesday to take in the teams presentation, the first stages in Sardinia before moving on to Sicily. On the morning of the presentation she managed to get hold of Bahrain-Merida’s Giovanni Visconti for some words before the big depart. There has been one big problem: A camera/computer/internet link, so not many pics at the moment. You can see some of her photos in PeloPics HERE.

I woke up on Wednesday morning with a feeling of excitement, I was meeting Giovanni Visconti for a chat/interview after the Bahrain-Merida team had their lunch. So about 11am I sent a message saying to tell me when and where.

Visconti got back to me saying there was a problem as they had to go to press conference after lunch, I thought ‘oh no! He thinks stalker alert…’ But no, he then sends the address of the hotel and to be there at 3pm.

Alghero - Italia - wielrennen - cycling - radsport - cyclisme -  new bike of Vincenzo NIBALI (Italy / Team Bahrain - Merida) pictured during Presse-conference prior to the Giro D’Italia 2017 - photo Miwa iijima/Cor Vos © 2017
Vincenzo’s new gold bike

I went to Giro d’Italia Race HQ to pick up accreditations, taking out someone’s wing mirror on the way, reverse spacial awareness is now awake, and went to look for this hotel. I had parked the car so was walking, but still got there an hour early. This hotel was like Fort Knox, so I hang about until some important looking Italian journos and photographers turn up and they just ring the bell… So I slip in behind them, before the electric gates closed.

Alghero - Italia - wielrennen - cycling - radsport - cyclisme -  illustration - sfeer - illustratie - Bike and Mechaniccar of Team BAHRAIN - MERIDA  pictured during Presse-conference prior to the Giro D’Italia 2017 - photo Miwa iijima/Cor Vos © 2017
The Bahrain-Merida team had taken over the hotel car park

Now Visconti has told me they are at lunch, so I take some photos of the scenery, but as I go to the front it’s all decked out in Team Bahrain-Merida colors and flags, Brent Copeland, Alex Carrera, Gorazd Stangelj & Bahraini Representatives being photographed by Mateja Kos – PR Guru for team. So I’m sneaking around taking photos when the ‘Falco’ comes out to join the fun. Eventually Mateja turns to me and asks if I’m there for press conference? Well, what do I say… Everyone suited & booted, me in a pair of shorts and an old T shirt. Luckily there were some Japanese journalists who were also casually dressed, we can’t all be in Armani suits like the guys from ‘La Gazzetta dello Sport’.

The Bahrain-Merida team with Falco

Meteja takes me in, but I’m not on the very select list, simple answer – “ok just add her.” So I tell them who I am and now must behave myself because I’m with ‘PEZ’.

Foto LaPresse - Gian Mattia D'Alberto 07/05/2017 Tortoli'-Cagliari  (Italia) Sport Ciclismo Giro d'Italia 2017 - 100a edizione -  Tappa 3 - da Tortoli' a Cagliari -  148 km ( 91,9 miglia ) Nella foto: la gara  Photo LaPresse - Gian Mattia D'Alberto 07/05/2017 Tortoli', Nuoro ( Italy )  Sport Cycling Giro d'Italia 2017 - 100th edition -  Stage 3 -  Tortoli'-Cagliari  -  148 km ( 91,9 miles ) In the pic: the competition
Vincenzo and Geoffrey

I am shown into a very plush reception area with canapés and a selection of drinks. And I feel like a fish in the Sahara, sitting with all these luminaries, I mean Ciro was there. I’m messaging Alastair telling him I’m going to run away… When Geoffrey Pizzorni (Bahrain-Merida team press officer), says hi and want’s to know where Alastair is? He then asks someone to get me a coffee and now I’m OK. The riders come through and I take some pictures, but Visconti says we need to make it later at the hotel as this place is just for the press conference, so we arrange a time. I stay for a little for more photos then run away to find my car, amazingly only two streets away.

Vincenzo’s (other) new bike

We finally sat down later the evening and…

PEZ: Giovanni this is going to be very informal. It’s my first and we’ll see if maybe my last. He laughed. Starting easy – we do some best and worst. What is your best/favorite place to ride?
Giovanni Visconti:
For an in Italian it is always in Italy, and for him the most beautiful is Il Giro, Lombardi is also special, but the Giro is the very best.

Huy - Belgium - wielrennen - cycling - cyclisme - radsport -  Giovanni VISCONTI (Italy / Team Bahrain - Merida) pictured during the Fleche Wallone 2017 - foto Dion Kerckhoffs/Cor Vos © 2017
The cold of Belgium and the Flèche Wallonne

PEZ: Where do you not like riding?
The cold, the Netherlands, it’s the real cycling, but it’s very dangerous, it’s not the same to watch it on TV and to do the race. Cold and dangerous.

PEZ: You’re favorite climb?
For me because I have a nice memory. (Laughing with his head in his hands) I don’t remember the name, my victory in the Giro aaahhhh – (finally he remembers) – the Galibier because I won the stage 17 of the Giro in 2013.

Col du Galibier - France - wielrennen - cycling - radsport - cyclisme -  Giovanni Visconti (Movistar) pictured during the Giro D’Italia 2013 - Stage 15 from Cesana Torinese to Col du Galibier 149 km - photo RB/Cor Vos © 2013
Giro’13 stage 15 on the Galibier

PEZ: Stage 13? No?
No, stage 15, I won stage 15 & 17

PEZ: It got a bit confusing but we agreed stage 15 & 17 of 2013 Giro, neither of us had done our homework. Have you picked out a stage in this Giro for you, one you would like to win
This giro is a little bit different for me as I am here for Vincenzo first, then if there is a possibility for me I have to catch the moment, but now I can’t say when or which stage. Normally I study the race, all the stage, but this year I didn’t look to hard.

Vicenza - Italy - wielrennen - cycling - radsport - cyclisme -  Giovanni Visconti (Movistar) pictured during the Giro D’Italia 2013 - Stage 17 from Caravaggio to Vicenza 214 km - photo RB/Cor Vos © 2013
Giro’13 stage 17 win

PEZ: Not even Stage 4 to Etna, you don’t think…
Pppfff, I don’t know Etna, no, no because… No, I don’t know Etna. It’s important for me to stay with Vincenzo and then we will see…

Later I said to him, if I told you I’d come all this way to take his photo crossing the finish line on Etna 1st. He laughed And said I would need to put the finish line 5km back down the mountain for him to cross first.

PEZ: What is your favorite kit?
In the peloton?

PEZ: No of yours?
Hahaha, but of course Bahrain-Merida.

Rovinj - Croatia  - Cycling - radsport - cyclisme - wielrennen  - Giovanni Visconti   pictured during the team photoshoot of Team Bahrain in Rovinj, Croatia - foto LB/RB/Cor Vos © 2017
Happy in red

PEZ: Not Endura (makers of the Movistar kit) for quality, you know it’s Scottish?
(Laughing again) Ahhh of course, but no I like the red, the red of Bahrain is the best, Endura is good, but Sportful the best.

PEZ: I had to agree it is a beautiful kit. Okay, less controversial, your favorite food?
I love pizza too much, and pasta, like a real Italian I love pizza and pasta, but for an Italian pasta is white, without nothing, oil & cheese, Parmesan, for me is top, simple.

PEZ: Now to drink, what is your favorite drink?
Normally I don’t drink too much, but now since the summer a little red wine. In Tuscany the red wine is very nice, but I only open the bottle when people come to visit.

Al Bustan - Oman - wielrennen - cycling - radsport - cyclisme -  Giovanni VISCONTI (Italy / Team Bahrain - Merida)   pictured during stage 2 of the 2017 Tour of Oman from Nakhal to Al Bustan on February 15, 2017 in Oman  - photo PDV/PN/Cor Vos © 2017

PEZ: Your favorite music, type of music?
It’s funny because now it is changing, I like different thing like from classical to hip hop. The lyrics in hip hop, they say so much and can always be a story, a tale of life and politics. Like the classical also, there is a purpose.

PEZ: Again, I had to agree with Giovanni, saying how I felt rappers/hip hop were poets. Your favorite animal?
Well, I have a cat… But I very much prefer dogs, but is difficult, everyone else wants a cat.

PEZ: Movies – type of movie or actor?
Denzel (with no hesitation), I very much like the movies of Denzel. He is also always saying something interesting, worth knowing.

Firenze - Florence - Italia - wielrennen - cycling - radsport - cyclisme -  Giovanni Visconti (Italy / Team Movistar) pictured during the World Championships  Cycling Road Elite men  - photo HR/Cor Vos © 2013
In the 2013 Worlds team

PEZ: Who was/is your hero on the bike?
Bettini, Paolo Bettini, Valverde is amazing now and Nibali, but Bettini. I had the luck of riding with him when he started (Quick-Step Innergetic) and that was he best time, and Zabel, Petacchi but Bettini is my hero. And Valverde and Nibali who I admire now.

PEZ: What’s the atmosphere like in the team?
Very good, it is happy & relaxed. All the different nationalities get along ok.

PEZ: What is the language of the team?
English, for sure. But they are mostly Italians and many of the non Italians speak Italian, but officially English. At the Giro, the language is Italian

PEZ: You must be aware of the talk when the team started up that there was a lot of negative press around the association with Bahrain and the Prince. Have any of you, the team, been victim of bad press or angry fans because of that association?
Yes, we aware of course, but we don’t think about this, it is in a box in another room if you like. That is politics, we are riding our bikes.

As for being a victim of any backlash Giovanni said he had not seen or heard anything bad from fans or press regarding the team and neither had the others as far as he knew. I left that subject there…

Vicenza - Italy - wielrennen - cycling - radsport - cyclisme - Giovanni Visconti (Movistar)  pictured during the Giro D’Italia 2013 - Stage 17 from Caravaggio to Vicenza 214 km - photo RB/Cor Vos © 2013
Happy with the win at Movistar

PEZ: Did you feel the pressure to win more at Movistar or Bahrain-Merida?
Pressure no, the pressure is for Valverde and Nibali. His pressure he gives to himself.

PEZ: Who was your best friend on Movistar and at Bahrain Merida?
Javi Moreno, for sure

PEZ: So that works out for Bahrain as well, I was going to ask who you room with at races, but that will be…
Javi Moreno, yes. There was a time when we were coming to the Bahrain and I was hoping for Javi, I am glad to see him here.

Alghero - Italia - wielrennen - cycling - radsport - cyclisme -  illustration - scenery - carte postal scenic shot - postcard sfeerfoto - sfeer - illustratie Javier Moreno (ESP - Bahrain - Merida) pictured during Presse-conference prior to the Giro D’Italia 2017 - photo LB/RB/Cor Vos © 2017
Javi Moreno with Falco

Then is asked about Izagirre and Moreno coming to Bahrain Merida… But he couldn’t answer from laughing at my pronunciation of Izagirre – I was too Scottish… So I moved on. We chat about him going for a stage again as it comes up and my list so I ask:

PEZ: How does it work, that you get to take your chance, does Vincenzo say ok go, or what?
If there is a possibility for me? Eh I think it will be like in the final of a hard stage in the last kilometer we are in a group of 30 riders or 40, is no problem for Vincenzo, for the GC man, his call, “try” maybe it can be me to try.

PEZ: The UCI! Do you think the UCI are doing enough around Motos in the peloton and disc brakes?
The UCI, I think the UCI are doing the best they can, it is not so simple to just fix this.

PEZ: Now you have said you don’t know/like Etna, but will your whole family be there at the finish going crazy?
Not only for me but for Vincenzo (laughing). Now that we are in the same team, it is very strange but it is very nice for our people. Two Sicilians at the top of cycling in the 100th Giro, it’s impossible to imagine, it’s incredible.

Larciano - Italy  - wielrennen - cycling - cyclisme - radsport -  Vincenzo Nibali (ITA - Bahrain - Merida) - Giovanni Visconti (ITA - Bahrain - Merida  pictured during GP Larciano 2017 from Larciano to Larciano 199,2 km -  - GP Larciano 2017 - Larciano - Larciano 199,2 km - 05/03/2017 - foto LB/RB/Cor Vos © 2017
Two Sicilians in the GP Larciano

PEZ: Were you and Nibali friends or know each other when you were young?
No, he was from 300km away, Etna is in the north, near to Vincenzo more.

I turn to the last page of my questions. I like this. I don’t think he likes my interview “skills”. Well it was a stupid question.

PEZ: Do you miss your family when you are away training or at a race? Of course you do.
Yes, of course, but it is our life, our life, we have to do it, it is also for the family.

PEZ: Leg-warmers – Over or under? This takes some explanation, he can’t believe people care.
Ha ha ha, why this question?

PEZ: Twitter, some people argue over his, everyone has an opinion.
Ha ha. I prefer over as it’s easier to remove… But the sponsors must be shown, to do this in a stage in the Giro is not possible.

PEZ: Really, they actually bother… Maybe they should get sponsors on the leg warmers. Ok
Socks, any color preference? Again a Twitter thing.

I like strange colors (Giovanni is currently wearing black with a strange yellow design).

Willunga Hill - Australia - wielrennen - cycling - radsport - cyclisme - Chris HAMILTON (Australia / Team Sunweb) - Giovanni VISCONTI (Italy / Team Bahrain - Merida) pictured during  the Santos Tour Down Under 2017 - BikeExchange Stage 5 - in Willunga Hill, Australia on jan 21 - photo Dion Kerckhoffs/Cor Vos © 2017
Short socks in the Tour Down Under

PEZ: Another Twitter inspired question. Sock height?
I would like them higher, but I have short legs so I can’t hahaha, it’s very ugly. Some riders wear them right up to the knee.

PEZ: Adam Hansen?
Adam, he is special.

PEZ: Who do you think is the best Italian Pro Continental team?
I like very much the image of the team of my friend Pelosi he s the manager of Nippo-Vini Fantini, I like their image. With the results of this year Androni are a very, very, very strong team, yeah. But I think Androni, Bardiani, Nippo are the perfect teams to start a professional life. For me 2 or 3yrs is the perfect way to start the life.

We are done…

Then Copeland & Carera came up ready for dinner, showing of their photos with Falco. I said to Copeland not to worry he only said nice things. And I left them to their dinner.

Margherita di Savoia - Italy - wielrennen - cycling - radsport - cyclisme - Luca Paolini (Katusha)  - Giovanni Visconti (Movistar)    pictured during the Giro D’Italia 2013 - Stage 6 from Mola di Bari to Margherita di Savoia - 169 km - photo RB/Cor Vos © 2013
Luca Paolini and Giovanni Visconti – Two leaders jerseys in 2013 Giro

# Hopefully we will be hearing (and seeing) more from Heather at the Giro. You can keep up with her voyage on Twitter @Trudgin. #

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