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Team Sky’s Dario Cioni Talks Giro d’Italia

OK, you can have me pontificating about the 2011 Giro or we can talk to Team Sky’s Tuscan, Dario Cioni – who would you like? Thought so!

PEZ: Dario, come sta, how’s the olive oil business?
Dario: We’re taking the first load to the press, tonight.

PEZ: I’ve heard that Bradley Wiggins wants to become involved?
Dario: He’s thinking about getting involved in some different businesses, as an investment – we’ve talked about it and will talk some more.

The thing with Bradley is that you never know when he’s serious, he’s always joking – but I think he’s serious about this.

Dario’s wrist got a workout signing autographs at the Giro ’10 stage 20 start in Bormio.

PEZ: And you’re a Sky man for 2011?
Dario: Yes, my contract is confirmed, next year will be my 12th professional season.

PEZ: How many Giros, now?
Dario: This year was my eighth – and also four Tours de France and five Vueltas; 17 Grand Tours.

PEZ: What were the high lights off 2010 for you?
Dario: Getting a contract with a new team like Sky was a big satisfaction in itself – and I enjoyed the Giro, despite early crashes I finished in the top 20.

PEZ: And the disappointments?
Dario: Maybe finishing second in the team time trial at the Giro; it would have been nice to win my first Giro stage – we rode a good race but were unlucky with the weather; Liquigas had the better of the conditions.

PEZ: Sky – an English team; what was it like after Belgian (Lotto) and Italian (Mapei, Fassa Bortolo, Liquigas, ISD) teams?
Dario: It sounds strange, but it made me feel younger; it reminded me of England where I lived when I was young.

We had meets team meetings there and ate English food.

The structure of the team is very motivational; it was new to be working with nutritionists and also a psychologist like Steve Peters.

The work positioning on the bike was good too – to make us more aero.

And also, having our own chef on the Giro was very professional.

PEZ: The 2011 Giro – not one for the sprinters?
Dario: No, it seems there’s not much for them to do!

PEZ: And a chrono man is not going to win.
Dario: No, it’s one for the climbers – that last day time trial will not be important after seven mountain top finishes and 40 major climbs.

And besides, a time trial at that stage of the race isn’t about who is the best time triallist; it’s about who is least tired.

The race will be about climbers and maybe the breakaway specialists who can climb – Liquigas were lucky when the big escape went this year, but that could happen again.

PEZ: It will be a hellish race, with all those climbs.
Dario: It will be hard for everyone, but they have put a few easy days in between the really hard mountain days.

For me what are more of a problem are the long transfers.

PEZ: Riders really like dislike transfers by air, why?
Dario: It’s not so much a physical consideration as the fact that you lose the rhythm of the race and you use up a lot of time; getting to the airport, checking in, getting to the bus at the other end – it all takes time.

Transfers don’t make it easy; they make the days very long – if I could chose, I would chose not to fly, but one of the transfers is too long to drive so we must fly.

PEZ: Dirt roads – just a gimmick?
Dario: I’m not against the white roads, they made the stage this year very interesting; but I don’t think that you must have them every year.

They’re not so bad if it’s dry, they are not that much different to ride from asphalt, but it’s a lot of work for the mechanics if they turn to mud.

PEZ: The toughest stage?
Dario: The last mountain stage – to Sestriere is 200 kilometres and if you are tired then that stage will really kill you.

I think that the race will be decided before then because there are so many hard stages already.

PEZ: Who are your favourites?
Dario: It depends on who is riding – Basso may go for the Tour but if he rides then he is the favourite.

But Nibali has improved this year and will also be one to beat.

PEZ: Can you still ride the Giro and Tour in the same season?
Dario: It depends what you want to do, but it’s difficult to do well in both – if you look at the riders who rode the Giro this year they could not perform in the Tour, they were fried.

I don’t think that it’s possible to do both at the highest level and I don’t think you should start a big tour with the intention of quitting after 10 or 11 stages.

PEZ: And what of 2011 for you?
Dario: The team has asked us to email to them what our ideal programme would be; we have a team meeting on 16th November when we’ll discuss the programme in more depth – we should have our programmes confirmed by the end of November and then we can frame our training to suit.

In my email I have requested that I ride the Giro – that would be my main goal.

PEZ: How much of a break will you take, over the winter?
Dario: I stopped after Lombardy and haven’t been on the bike since.

I usually start in early December but I think I will start in mid-November, but gently, three or four days each week.

And then, in the second half of December I will start to do some proper training.

With thanks to Dario, wishing him a bumper crop of olives and a good Giro in 2011.

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