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
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
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
Alicia: And you will primarily have a
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
Charlie: I would have liked to, but it did not fit
in with the team’s plans for the season.
Alicia: What does the team think about
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
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 Flechè.
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.
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.