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Tour of California - PreTour chat with Liquigas
By Staff
Date: 2/19/2007
Tour of California - PreTour chat with Liquigas

Tour of California - A Chat with Luca, Charlie and Manuel of Liquigas
A conversation with Luca Paolini, Charlie Wigelius and Manuel Quinziato about their roles and goals in the Tour of California, Spring Classics and the Giro d'Italia.

By Alicia Hopkins

I met up with Luca Paolini, Charlie Wegelius and Manuel Quinziato of Liquigas over dinner this week in San Francisco one evening before the race. Luckily Charlie graciously† played the role as interpreter for me (thanks Charlie) and answered† a few questions along the way as did Manuel Qunziato. I sat at the table with Luca at my right and Manuel to the right of Luca, Charlie sat across the table facing us.

Alicia: So Luca what are you going to do this season? What are you looking forward to?

Luca: To win as much as possible. And to win the races that I have not managed to win so far.

Luca Paolini†††† c. Fotoreporter Sirotti

Alicia: What are you expectations for the Tour of California?

Luca: I would like to win a stage, but I know that I have another role in helping Pellizotti obtain the best overall result for the team.

Alicia: Are you familiar with any of the other sprinters in the race?

Luca: There are so many riders here at a really high level. I will do my best to be up front.

Luca Paolini victory in the Tuscan Classic GP di Camaiore 2006
photo c. Fotoreporter Sirotti

Alicia: Is this the first time that you have raced in the States?

Luca: No. I raced in the 2001 edition of Redlands and Sea Otter.

Alicia [to Charly]: What are your plans for this season?

Charlie: This season I will ride the Giro and the Tour de France.

Alicia: And you will primarily have a support role?

Charlie: Yes, just helping.

Alicia: Did you do any altitude training in Mexico during the off season?

Charlie: No, two years ago, in 2005 I did.

Alicia: Is there any reason why you did not?

Charlie: I would have liked to, but it did not fit in with the teamís plans for the season.

Alicia: What does the team think about racing here?

Charlie: Itís very important race, especially with our relationship with Cannondale. They [Cannondale] are very important part of the team. The Tour of California is also an important race for some of our guys preparing for the early Spring Classics, since it is an 8 day stage race and there are none anywhere else in the world.

Alicia: How have Americans been treating you?

Charlie: We were out riding today, and we were really surprised at all of the cyclists we saw. There were a lot more [cyclists] out than I remember from the last time I was here.

Alicia: What motivated you to join Italian cycling teams?

Charlie: I have raced with Italian teams since I became a professional rider. I like riding for Italian teams.

Alicia: With Di Luca as Captain at the Giro, what are your expectations?

Charlie: We are going to have two Captains, Pellizotti and Di Luca. I think that scenario is perfect for him [Di Luca], as it really takes the pressure off of both of them, as they can say that we are riding for the other one (laughs) . He [Di Luca] can win some races before the Giro, obviously that will boost his confidence going into the Giro.

Alicia: That pressure is not removed; however in the Classics.

Charlie: No, but he is one of the few riders in the world who will be one of the five or six to go to the finish in the Classics such as Amstel or FlechŤ.

Alicia: How much pressure is on the team to improve upon last season?

Charlie: There is not really any pressure. In 2006, we had several good results for the team. If you look at it, it does not look like we did much in 2006, but there are small details that changed from 2005. Things change, this season we could win everything or we could get nothing; what is really important is to be there or there abouts.

Alicia: Manuel, are you going to try to go for the Time Trial or Prologue here at the Tour of California?

Manuel: For the Prologue and Time Trial it will be very difficult given the riders that are here like Cancellara.

Alicia: Have you been able to preview any of the stages?

Manuel: No. We will ride the Prologue the morning before the race.

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