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Interview: Marco Pinotti of Team Columbia HighRoad
By Mark Sharon
Date: 3/25/2009
Interview: Marco Pinotti of Team Columbia HighRoad

Marco Pinotti was born on February 25, 1976 in Osio Sotto, Lombardy and rides for Team Columbia-HighRoad. He †is the current, and three time, Italian National Time Trial Champion, and has worn the Maglia Rosa of the Giro díItalia (2007). 2008 was a particularly good year for Marco. He defended his Italian Time Trial Title and won the final time trial at the Giro d'Italia. He also won the overall classification at the Tour of Ireland and placed third in the Tour of Romandie.

The Daily Peloton caught up with Marco at the end of a recent team training camp.

Marco Pinotti 2009

Marco Pinotti - Team Columbia HighRoad: photo © Mark Sharon 2009

DP: How did you find the camp? Enjoyed it?

MP: Yes a lot. The camp here is like going on a school trip. You do your thing, your training, but for me it is a passion. To be fully immersed in training is really nice. You donít need to deal with family. This is one of the only times when you donít have to.

DP: Do you have children?

No, there's only me and my wife. I hope for children soon, but not at the moment.

DP: Where do you live?

MP: I live in the place I was born, Osio Sotto. It is about 10km south of Bergamo, in the north of Italy. When I left it was snowing so the camp was perfect timing.

Osio Sotto

Map showing Osio Sotto, Marco Pinotti's home town

DP: What did you do with the off-season?

MP: The off-season doesnít last that long. I finished racing at the end of October and started training core strength in the middle of November. After the end of the season we took five days to go to Paris. Normally I stay at home resting, reading book and watching movies.

DP: Whatís your favourite type of book? Novels?

MP: Oh no. Maybe books about psychology or the economy. Maybe every fifth book is a novel.

DP: Do you take books with you when you are away?

MP: Yes. Normally itís a book that teaches something. Theyíre the oneís I like. I am curious to see how things work. Itís also a way of not wasting time. You keep your brain active. I also think about what to do after my career. The more you knowledge you have the more possibilities there are.

DP: Who did you start your career with?

MP: It was Lampre-Daikin in 1999. I did the Tour de Langkawi with them in 2003 and 2004 with Luciano Pagliarini who won three stages. It was a really good experience. The best thing I like was all the teams were in the same hotel. It is not possible in Europe. You start knowing other riders from other teams. You know are a cycling circus. It makes you more united.

DP: Have you noticed big differences between the T-Mobile set-up and HighRoad?

MP: Every team try to take the best from a rider, and show that they support the rider. But this team [HighRoad] really does that. They make us perform well because they do what they say will. If they say they are going to give you the best time-trial bike they do. They see the potential in you even if you donít. You feel appreciated in this team.

DP: Do you enjoy the way HighRoad works?

MP: Yes I do. For example I like the way that the team physios and conditioning coaches work. They are very analytical and I am an engineer so I like that. But it isnít just analytical. They know you are a human being. They know it is a balance between the science and the art, a balance between body and mind. This team mixes it up well I think.

DP: We were talking to Rolf [Aldag] in the car during your team trail practice and he was telling us how differently people react to encouragement. How does he motivate you?

MP: Normally an analytical person like me doesnít like the ďallez allezĒ. In my personal case I want information so I can decide how I am going to adapt to this or that situation. I like it as fast as possible and as real as possible. Some riders will say to the director ďoh you were saying they were gaining ten seconds, and they were only gaining fiveĒ. I get angry because I know they are not telling me the true story. I want facts so I can react to those facts. I prefer to not hear anything or perhaps feedback from the cars point of view. Real feedback not just to talk. Some people have a different mindset.

DP: Of all the things in cycling, whatís your favourite bit? What do you enjoy the most?

MP: Itís the time-trialling. Itís not the time-trail itself but the way you train for it. You have to be specific in the way you prepare. Recognising the course Ė imagining it. And the two minutes right after the effort. You are exhausted but you start feeling better. At that moment you are (sighs happily) content you have done everything you can. The pain is finished. You know you have got to the point where you have reached the maximum, with the not possibility of doing more. You should finish at the point we just start to drop off.

DP: What is your main focus? Is it the Tour de France?

MP: I hope to go but I donít think so. The team is very strong. My focus will be on the Giro. There a lot of riders who would like to ride the Tour. If the team asks me to I will be very glad. I think my focus will be on being consistent right through the year. Being part of the team success.

DP: Is the Giro a favourite? Do you enjoy doing it?

MP: I would say yes. It is my home race, but I know the Tour has something more special than the Giro in terms of being international, recognisable. There is more focus on the Tour de France..

DP: What about Lance Armstrong doing the Giro this year? Will that help bring focus?

MP: May be he wants to do it because he has never done it, or because he needs it because he hasnít been racing for three years, or something to get ready for the Tour. Or maybe was worried he wouldnít be at the Tour. Of course Astana has a lot of team leaders and all of them are focussing on the Tour. I donít think it will raise the profile that much.

DP: HighRoad was very successful at the Giro Ė Cav (Cavendish) won a stage, you did too. Are you hoping for the same again?

MP: Yeah of course. Mark is going there to be competitive in the sprint and hopefully win. I want to be competitive, in form with the best chance to win.

DP: You came out of 2008 with a good set of wins, a stage win in the giro, overall win in the tour of Ireland Ė are you pleased?

MP: Oh very pleased!

DP: Do you get a lot of support from the rest of the team?

MP: Definitely! Teamwork is like a virus which spreads through everybody. Winning Ireland was a team success. Without my team mates I couldnít have won the race. Michael Barry for example deserved half of the win! As Bob [Stapleton] says we have won so many races as a team. 31 different riders won races. If you think about faster riders like Mark or Andre Greipel it is simpler situation, but for Barry and I it is more difficult to win because we arrive alone, but if we win it is because we have a lot of support from the team.

DP: This is a young team. As an older rider, like Michael or George [Hincapie] do the younger riders look to you for experience?

MP: I hope so but I think it is both ways. From a rider lie Mark Cavendish I learn a lot. From the way he is so focussed and so confident in himself. I hope they can learn something from me. Each rider is a model for his team-mate. If you choose the best of a riderís behaviour you can use it as a mentor. If a want to have confidence I look at Mark. I f I donít want to be so stressed I look at Adam a Hansen who is very calm.

DP: Is there is a group of people in the team you spend a lot of time with?

MP: Yeah. Morris Possoni because he is Italian and doesnít speak very good English. I am trying to introduce him to more an people. When you do a Grand Tour you get to know people a lot more. You are sharing a room, meals and travelling together. The most important time is the meals or in the bar. When you are in the room you are usually asleep.

DP: What was it like the first time you did Grand Tour?

MP: Itís like they say, itís a small town that moves from place to place. Itís like a circus I think. You start know all the journalists and photographers, and all the others who make it happen.

DP: Letís talk about your achievements. For starters you are Italian national time-trial champion.

Yes, three times 2005, 2007 and 2008. I also won the last stage of the 2008 Giro díItalia.

DP: How did you feel about that winning the stage?

MP: It was amazing. I was very happy. It was a dream to win the time-trial. I started with hopes for a good place on general classification because I was third in the Tour de Romandie a week before and I was good for the first half of the race. Then in the mountains I didnít feel very good Ė something with my stomach. I donít know what caused it, but I had two bad days. I finished in the last group into Varese. After that I rested and stayed in the bunch until I started feeling better. Then I had a few good days and ate a lot of carbos.

Winning I tell you is always a consequence of many factors. As soon as I started I was happy with my performance. Everything was working and itís almost as if you are in a trance. You focus on the way you reach the finish line.

I started at 60th place so I had a lot of time to wait. Then I was selected to go to [doping] control camper. While I was waiting I was looking at the television and getting really excited watching the riders at the various checkpoints thinking maybe I was going to get a top ten place, then a top five, then knowing Iíd won. It was a really great feeling.

DP: Is this a team you would like to finish your career with?

MP: Yes definitely. It is an example of how people can work together as a team. It would make a good case study.

DP: When do you think you will retire? What will you do?

MP: I am now 33. Maybe I stay on for another three or four years. Maybe I stay in cycling, or perhaps use the tools I have learnt in cycling to help people in outside companies to perform well. Motivational and creating the good environment. I like to keep the most doors open then when there is time I can decide.

DP: Thank you

MP: Thank you


Marco Pinotti's Personal Website
Team Columbia-HighRoad

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