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91st Giro d'Italia - Stage 8 Interviews
By Fabio
Date: 5/17/2008
91st Giro d'Italia - Stage 8 Interviews

91st Giro d'Italia - Stage 8 Interviews
Comments from Riccardo Ricco, Danilo Di Luca, Paolo Savoldelli, Giovanni Visconti, Andreas Kloden and more... Photos

Strangely enough, most of today's after stage comments were not about Riccò's winning performance or Bettini's failure to deliver, but Team LPR's questionable tactics, the attitude of their appointed man for the overall Danilo Di Luca, and the main GC contenders.

Stage 8 finish, Riccardo Ricco wins his second stage. Paolo Bettini and Davide Rebellin second. Photo courtesy of Saunier Duval/Scott

We start, needless to say, with a comment from today's winner, Riccardo Ricco: "It was a hard stage, both because of the fast start - it looked like we were at the Tour de France - and the efforts I sustained in the Pescocostanzo stage, when I spent a lot of energies. When I got past Danilo, I realized that I could win. But I must thank again my teammates, Piepoli in particular. He did an outstanding job in the last climb, setting me up for the sprint. Piepoli is GREAT!"

Paolo Bettini had to be content with second place; "I can't blame my team for anything. They were flawless also today. We had a good build-up to this stage, but in the end I lost to a rider who's going really fast. Kudos to Riccó. He was strong, smart and sharp".

Paolo Bettini finishes stage six showing the effort of the stage.
Photo © 2008 Fotoreporter Sirotti

On with Paolo Bettini, not too talkative after he had to be content with second place: "I can't blame the team for anything. They were flawless also today. We had a good build-up to this stage, but in the end I lost to a rider who's going really fast. Kudos to Riccó. He was strong, smart and sharp".

Danilo Di Luca was the first to go on trial he was accused of ... being left without any domestiques late today: "Well, I wasn't alone at all. I had three team mates around. The peloton was going fast in the descent and I got dropped, and didn't want to take risks. Things happen, you know, you cannot just be up front all the time."

"I launched my sprint a bit too early. I was coming from the back of the peloton and wanted to take the others by surprise, but maybe I should have waited a little longer. I tried today, but I'm not racing for stage victory every day, or I would be under excessive pressure. I think there are many dangerous rivals for GC-wise, but the one I deem most dangerous is Andreas Kloeden".

His teammate Paolo Savoldelli would definitely be a helluva lawyer. He used some good arguments to defend his squad: "I read plenty of press criticism of our tactics today, but if they criticize us and we win, like yesterday, I hope they will keep doing it all the time ... I do not agree with their opinions anyway. I don't think we were the team the spent most energies, Liquigas were. This is a strange Giro, without the classical sprinter's stages, and consequently most teams try and get their riders into breakaways; we got Pietropolli and Bosisio. We forced Astana and Riccó's team into chasing yesterday, while we were comfortably sitting inside the peloton".

Plus, "I also think that we did the right thing with Bosisio. Yeah, I know that fans and journalists always expect the big names to win. But you just saw how strong Riccó is, so you shouldn't have taken Di Luca's victory for granted yesterday. Danilo is an unpredictable rider. He doesn't wear earphones, and Today he got lost a little at the foot of the final ascent, and we found him back just 400m from the finish, then he launched his sprint early. Had he warned us earlier, we would have led him out, like in the first (road) stage. But in the end I had no clue of what he was doing, and of what was going on..."

And again, about his best-known compagno di squadra: "Danilo comes after a very difficult year, you know. Only a man of character like him, and there's very few of them, would come here under such conditions, others would lose confidence. He overcame plenty of problems, and now he wants to prove a point: that he's still the same Danilo. Sometimes when you're so hungry for victory, you just fail to get it... I don't know if he'll win the race, but gotta give him some credit for his guts.

Finally something about his own chances and the part he'll be playing in the race: "First of all, I have to say that I've not played the gregario (domestique) to anyone. I gave Danilo a leadout in the sprint Sunday because he's a team-mate of mine, and we get along well together, and he had the chance to beat Riccó; we race to win, you know. Now there's the ITT Tuesday, and you just can't cheat in stages like that. They tell the truth. So, depending on my ITT performance, I'll make a decision about my role in the race. It's true that I won two Giros, but neither of them had such hard climbs like this year's. That's why, on paper, Di Luca is a better option than me. Still, I think both of us will try and attack in stages to come".

Liquigas' team manager (and Di Luca's former Direttore Sportivo) Roberto Amadio: "Danilo raced for us three years, I know him well, and I know he may "get lost" sometimes, it's one of his weak points. But when he gained over 30 places in the last metres, he accomplished something great. If you do a thing like that, you've got great legs. I wouldn't be too worried about him. I think this Giro is a matter of 4-5 riders. At the moment Riccò is above anyone else. With his current condition, and a skilled, experienced climber like Piepoli on his side, he can make the gap".

Andrea Noé: "I don't want to comment on other teams' tactics, but I think LPR are doing fine. (Speaking of the G.C.) Kloeden is a better TTist than Riccó and Di Luca, and it's gonna be hard for anyone to drop him on the climbs. I think the race is still wide open, the ITT will tell us more, but with so many ascents following, the one with the best legs will make the difference. The names? The usual suspects: Riccò, Di Luca, Kloeden...".

"Klodi" at the team presentation. Photo © 2008 Fotoreporter Sirotti

Andreas Kloeden: "Overall, it was a good seven days. Perhaps something could have gone better, but I'm satisfied. I'm no fan of small and steep climbs like yesterday's; when Di Luca attacked I found myself way too distant from him, he's very fast. But I'm more comfortable when climbs get longer. If I want to win the race, I have to do fine in the ITT. Di Luca is ahead of me on GC, but within striking distance. I'm a good TTist, whilst Di Luca is a better climber than me. I don't think Riccó is much of a danger, my true rival is Di Luca".

RAI's übercommentator Gigi Sgarbozza: "I think the best rider won today. We also saw Astana work for Contador, that makes me think he is the real team leader, and not Kloeden or Leipheimer".

Some words from former pro rider (and former World Champion) Maurizio Fondriest: "The third week will be the decider, so we'd better think twice before talking too early. In my opinion Kloeden should watch out also for Riccó. And not just because, as Amadio said, he's currently better than the others, but also due to what he showed he could do in mountain stages last year. Riccò might well be a dangerous overall contender. And even if it's true that Kloeden has won the Tour de Romandie, and he's Astana's team leader, I wouldn't write off Contador".

Giovanni Visconti poses for a photo with his appreciative fans.
Photo © 2008 Fotoreporter Sirotti

Giovanni Visconti couldn't fulfill his promise to give Bettini the winning leadout: "Today's sprint was perhaps too difficult for me. Well, in fact the sprint started five km from the finish, when road started tilting upwards and a flurry of attacks came. I must recover from my efforts of the past two days; I managed to stay in the first group, but couldn't help Paolo. I'm sorry. The team was great anyway. They rode tempo in the heat all day long and averaged 45 kph, I think that's good. I'm glad that I'll have the Maglia Rosa one more day".

We wrap up this article with some words from Levi Leipheimer: "It's true that we focused on saving our legs throughout the first week, but that was the only thing we could do. Who's team leader at Astana? If I have to name names, I'll tell you it's Contador. But in the next days we'll see who has the best form".

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