What's Cool In Road Cycling

Lombardia’08: Inside With Rubens And Philip!

It’s not a proper Classic until we’ve Pezzed at least a couple of riders; the day after Cunego’s excellent win (but where were the rest?) in the Tour of Lombardy, we caught up with Rubens Bertogliati (Switzerland & Scott) and Philip Deignan (Ireland & AG2R) to get their views on the year’s last ‘Euro-biggie.’

The trouble is, that it’s October and the finishing sheets get easier and easier to print, with those long columns of ‘DNF’ – both of our boys scored that result, but we got good insights, nonetheless.

PEZ: ‘Did not finish,’ was it the head or the legs?
Philip: My form going in to the race wasn’t the best; I did what I had to do for the team, and then climbed off at the second feed at 192 K, before the Madonna climb. It was more the head; it’s been a long season, I started in the Marseillaise on 03/02 and I’ve been racing ever since.

It’s actually the first time in four seasons that I’ve raced a full year, up until now it’s been curtailed by illness or injury. I rode Paris – Nice and the Tours of The Basque Country, Italy, Switzerland and Germany, plus the Olympics. I haven’t sat and counted, but it must be around 90 days racing, maybe too much I think.

That’s one of the things I’m looking forward to at my new team, Cervelo Test Team; we’ll have less race days – there will be specific races that we’ll target, rather than just riding everything. At AG2R the focus has always been on big miles, if you say you’re tired then they say that you’re not training enough and should do more kilometres!

It’s just the French view.

Rubens: I’m still in France, I rode the Chrono des Nations today (Sunday) and was fifth; just 45 seconds down on the winner, Stef Clement (Netherlands & Bouygues) so I’m happy with my ride. I climbed off at the second feed yesterday to save my legs for today; I had done all I could for the team – so it was my head, but I was using it to look after my form for today!


Diegnan and Bertogliati missed out on the pain towards the top of the Ghisallo.

PEZ: What was the team game plan?
Philip: Rinaldo Nocentini and John Gadret were the leaders; the rest of us did what we could help them. Nocentini was disappointed with his ride, he finished 20th and Gadret was 43rd – Gadret comes from a cyclo cross background and at the moment he’s either very good, or very bad, but I think he has the potential to be one of the best climbers, in a year or two.

Rubens: Manuele Mori has been going very well in the races recently and he was our protected rider, our tactic was to save him for the final part of the race. He was in the lead group of 40 with Cunego, but when it split on the last climb he missed it and ended 25th, not a bad ride, but not a great one – you must remember though, that the last 40 kilometres of Lombardy are very hard and the wind makes it difficult too.

PEZ: How many times have you ridden Lombardy and do you get a chance to admire the scenery?
Philip: This is my third time; I rode and finished in 2006 and 2007. The scenery is amazing but it was dull yesterday and you didn’t get much chance to see it.

Rubens: It’s my third time and I know the area very well; I do a lot of my training around Como, it was grey yesterday but I’m very familiar with the panoramas – it’s a beautiful place.

PEZ: Cunego seems to have made the race his?
Philip: Very much so, I think that he’s proved himself as a one day man now, rather than a Grand Tour rider. He‘s always there in the hard, hilly classics like the Fleche and Liege – he won the Amstel, of course. There are a lot of guys who have lost motivation by this time of year, but this is his area and his race, so he’s still highly motivated for it.

Rubens: I think now that Bettini has stopped its Cunego’s race and in fact, I think he can go on the challenge Fausto Coppi’s record of five wins.

PEZ: The others seemed very quiet; Lampre had it all under control.
Philip: I didn’t see the finale, but a big factor was the absence of LPR Brakes with Di Luca and Gerolsteiner with Rebellin, they are both riders who could have challenged Cunego. Having said that, he was the obvious favourite and it’s no surprise that he won.

Rubens: The absence of Gerolsteiner was important, the responsibility was all with Lampre, but they were very strong and accepted it, particularly Ballan. I think that Sanchez was perhaps one notch down from his best.

PEZ: Is that it for 2008?
Philip: Oh, Jeez! Yes! I’m not one of those guys who train right through the winter; I need some time to relax, but I’ll stay active, play some golf, and do some cross country running and start training at the end of November.

Rubens: After today’s Chrono des Nations, yes. In the past I’ve done the Japan Cup, but not this year, it’s a pity because I like that race and I like Japan very much, it’s a beautiful place.

Both riders will be talking to Pez about their new teams in the course of the next week; Philip goes to Cervelo and Rubens goes to Teltek H2O.

Meanwhile, enjoy the break guys, you’ve earned it!

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