What's Cool In Road Cycling

Tafi Loves Life in Hell

He has been really unlucky in 2001, but he feels as always a big desire to train and race. “Or else, I was in another place. But my desire to train, to go out with my bike, is the same as the 1st year. In 2001 I’ve been really unlucky. In January I’ve been in hospital. After the problem to one leg. I had an operation, and a long rehabilitation.

This problem started at the Roubaix of last year. At the start, I didn’t think it was a big problem, but the race was finished, and I was returning at home, the pain was more than before. After the operation, I started to do long training rides in July, and in August I started to race. I won a stage at Burgos, my only victory of the last season”.

This year he started really early, in January in Australia and after in Malaysia. But in his mind there is only one race, the Roubaix. “I don’t search apologies. Lat year my race wasn’t exciting, but not because of the pain in the leg, but for the cold weather. I prefer dry weather to rain, I’m ever been better in the hot. That’s why I hope to find a sunny Sunday, where I can do my best”.

For the first time he won’t live the duel with his friend & enemy Franco Ballerini.
“Me and Franco know each other for life and we live nearby. It’s natural our rivalry, because we have the same features, and so we love the same race. So we arrived at the eve with a lot of tension, but after it was everything ok”.

The eve of Roubaix is really special.
“To arrive at Paris-Roubaix with quiet, without problems, is important. Until Gent-Wevelgem you don’t think about it, but after you are projected to the race. The last 4-5 years were beautiful. There is a ceremony: Friday at the forest, you feel that everything is ok. All that has a big charm on me. But it’s impossible to explain this feeling, you must try it”.

The concentration is important, but it’s more important to know well the little roads.
“In a race of this type, experience is really important, you must be certain, but the more you do the pave, the more you will run fast. And of course, also the team is important, I think this year Mapei is still the strongest team. There are riders as Zanini, Nardello, Bodrogi, Hulsmann and Cioni which comes from mtb, and he has a big interest to try this race”.

But in iIaly there aren’t many young men who run fast on pave.
“It’s difficult to name one. For Roubaix there aren’t so many riders. For the classics we have a lot of guys: Basso, Di Luca, Figueras. But Roubaix is another story. Dario Pieri showed something good, but this year he must show an important sign. In this Roubaix there are men with a big experience as Museeuw, but we are at a change of generation and will discover new fast riders in this race. . Only if you run it, you can understand if this can be your race. Me, at my first Roubaix, was in pain for 2 days, but I understood that this race was for me”.

And to ride fast in this race, you must understand it, and its uniqueness.
“Only with the right spirit you can pedal on these unusual roads. Only if you have the right spirit you can pedal fast on the last 80 kms. Kms without any logic and out of any parameter. Who wins is really a champion with a big heart: Roubaix exalts the rider, his personality”.
One time Roubaix made Tafi winner, when he was the Italian champion. This year he will decides if it will be his last time.
“This can be my last Roubaix, but to stop is really hard. When you arrive at my age, you think more about retiring. The team offered me retirement after the Giro d’Italia, but if I will have still determination I want to continue. Roubaix will tell me. Win it? There are many opponents really strong, but I know that Tchmil won at 37 years old, and Duclos-Lassalla won at 39. I’m still 36……”.

– Source: Bicisport

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