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Riders on the Storm: Mens Elite Road Race
 
By Janna Trevisanut
Date: 10/12/2002
Riders on the Storm: Mens Elite Road Race
 

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Lampre-Daikin's Riders

Four Lampre-Daikin riders will partake in Zolder road race: Jan Svorada, Zbigniew Spruch, Rubens Bertogliati and Ludo Dierckxsens.

As for sprinter Jan Svorada, who has won 5 races up to now this year, the route suits him very much. Like many other riders, he hopes in a final massive sprint to speak up: "I didn’t race Paris-Tours because I had flu and a cough. Then, I started to train on Tuesday. I’m going to ride 240 km on Thursday before leaving for Belgium on Friday evening. The National team isn’t there just for me, so I’m going to take advantage of the others’ work."

Zbigniew Spruch was next to Vainsteins in Plouay in 2000. Unfortunately, our "Zibi" missed the win of a lifetime by a stone’s throw. He hasn’t been very brilliant during this season but "Zibi" is a strong rider who can show off himself in the most important races. His gifts make him one of the riders to be watched out for, all together with the whole Polish National team.

Rubens Bertogliati captured one stage in this year’s Tour de France and he is debuting in a World event. He isn’t in good form but the World’s road race will be the chance of increasing his expertise.

Ludo Dierckxsens will race on home turf and he is in good form. Everyone says that the Belgian National team is the strongest one. "Nothing ventured, nothing gained," says Ludo. "I think that this will be a life chance. If there is a breakaway, be sure: I’ll be there. Those who hope to end with a bunch sprint should stop fooling themselves because the Belgian team won’t agree at all. If it rained, very few riders would cross the finish line: I really hope to be one of them". (Lampre)

Fassa Bortolo's Matteo Tosatto

Fassa Bortolo's Matteo Tosatto is in Belgium to participate on Sunday at the Cycling road World Championship in Zolder. We interviewed him to know how he is feeling about this new experience.

Matteo, how did you react when you heard about your selection in the ‘squadra azzurra’?
I was really happy… it’s a wonderful experience! I am in a great condition, I won Coppa Placci and I’ve often been placed in last months… I worked a lot and deserved the selection.

Did you believe in your selection?
In the last months, yes… I felt good and the race was good for me. At the beginning of the year it wasn’t one of my targets but then, in August, I started to think seriously about it and I worked a lot for it.

The last years you weren’t one of the candidates for the World Championships. What changed this year?
In the last years the races were strongest and not very good for my characteristics. Then, I used to have more results in the beginning of the season, so at the end, I’m always dead! Last winter I had a car accident and so I had to go slowly at the beginning of this year. I think it is the reason I’m now in a great condition!

Do you have an idea about the role you’ll have in the team?
It will certainly be to help my captains breaking, or being at the front of the bunch to keep it packed for the sprint.

Do you know Mario Cipollini?
I’ve never been with him in a team but I know he is very helpful to create a compact and a motivated group for a special target.

Are you ready now for this appointment?
Yes I feel good and I am very confident. I hope to do well.
(Fassa Bortolo)

World Champion Oscar Freire

Mapei's Oscar Freire (Spanish National Team) says that next to Cipollini, those who count for the podium are the German Erik Zabel, the Italian Alessandro Petacchi and the Australian Robbie McEwen. "They are the sprinters that are more in form and I hope to be among them. "

"I've arrived at the Worlds in a situation very much like two years ago. I no longer have the discomfort that made me withdraw from the Vuelta. In the Giro de Lucca, I was a little worried, because I had to withdraw too. But right away I discovered the source of the troubles and everything now is pretty much taken care of. The reason behind the withdrawals was the fixed cleats in the cycling shoes. I have changed them for the one with float and I don't have any problems."

On Worlds Road Race, he said that it is one he likes the least of those he has disputed. "If it were harder, I would have more options, but this is so flat there are many more people with possibilities, which will be more difficult for me. So a very different race can take place, since there is not a time for which all will wait; the attacks will be continuous."

"The Spanish press has always pointed me out as favorite, at least these last two years, but that is not the case. My great favorite is Cipollini, without forgetting other sprinters that are in great shape as Petacchi, Zabel and McEwen."

If Italy is the team that should be in control: "Italy will try to block any tries, but there are riders who will escape, such as Bettini, as Pettachi, if truly he comes to help Cipollini, or Di Luca. Cipollini can become nervous if there are breaks."

Cipollini is the favorite if the team gives him the same work as in the Vuelta. If not, McEwen or Zabel are much more regular, are more favored."

The current champion of the world insists there is a difference between the World cup and any other race. "After 260 kilometers you don't have a team that dominates in a clear way, while in a stage of a tour,  yes you can make it. Also, in the last 60 kilometers the team doesn't wrap up in the same way, you feel more alone, you have to work for yourself. It is not the same thing, here there is much more tension than in another race. The same thing at the end -  a rider wins that few watched over is, like what happened to me in Verona."

About the national selection: "It is possibly the strongest team that can be formed for a test like this. I don't know if they are stars or not. What I know is that they will give all that they have to help me. Maybe other teams have to their favor the course, but the Spanish team equals them, being the most homogeneous selection."

Freire referred to his new team. "In the coming days I will sign for two years with the Dutch Rabobank. At no time have I been nervous, because I had the tranquility that I won't lack, and I have been able to follow the preparation that I wanted."

"Now what I care about is to win, I don't try to equal the record of Merckx, because each sprint is different. In a sprint, besides being well, luck is needed." (todociclismo)

Paolo Bettini (A few days ago)

 "I have good sensations now. It seems there's harmony inside our group. And in the next days we'll try to become an even more united bunch, then give everything on Sunday." "I think many riders will try to avoid a final bunch sprint, as in that case victory should become a matter of 5-6 names only. So we'll have to be careful and try to take advantage of every chance we have been given. Of course, in case the race ends in a bunch sprint, working onlyfor Mario would be the best thing to do for all of us. We don't have to repeat the same mistakes we made last year."

Bettini (on the eve of the race)

"With just one day before the race, I'm getting excited about it, and I know I'll get even more tomorrow after reaching the startline, wearing the jersey and backnumber, and meeting the people there. But that's exactly what you need to find extra-motivation."

Danilo Di Luca (a few days ago)

"I'm in a good condition, and motivated to do well. I know the course doesn't suit my skills perfectly, although I have already proved that I can be quite fast in small bunch sprints. And of course there is the alternative... well, actually the leader: Mario Cipollini ! The route is particularly appropriate for him, and in an eventual bunch sprint the whole team will be helping him. There's harmony and calm inside the squad. We are a bunch of people knowing each other very well, after all. We have spent the year riding together."

"I think the team currently in Zolder is the best possible one Italy may field for this kind of contests. In my opinion Ballerini has done the right thing in selecting Cipollini and his loyal leadout men, as well as other riders that could be of help in an eventual sprint. I think on Sunday we'll see an unusual race, in an unsual, almost completely flat course. It will not be an easy competition, but with such a route we could have a peloton regrouped finishing in a bunch sprint."

Ballerini, Italian National Team Director

On the importance of the reserve riders in this competition: "Understand that what we are building is very important for Sunday's competition. I have talked to Bennati and Bernucci, to tell them that their moral contribution will be decisive."

"It will be a fight between Zabel, McEwen, Freire and Cipollini."

"Whenever I have seen on TV about who is the trailblazer at the Worlds, either the Tuscan or the German - I have had no doubts: Zabel and McEwen are favored, because they are more sprinters than Mario. Coming off a bend in a slight incline could be the last man, who will certainly be Lombardi. To become unbeatable, Mario needs 2 very clever kms, with the train launching him at 65kph. Besides, he prefers going at the head; to have adversaries to his right or left bothers him."

Zabel and Voigt

Eric Zabel: "If the result doesn't favour me, I want to know we have done everything we could. We don't ride here for our racing team, we ride for Germany."

Jens Voigt, (Zabel's old schoolmate and national team member from Credit Agricole): It's totally clear that we ride for Eric. After all, he is the man here with the best chance. If you weren't totally for Germany in school, then you were called a traitor..."

Zabel: "Hopefully it won't rain. The course is tricky and there are traffic obstructions and chicanes to make cars slower. For us they're death...the danger of falling is very large.

"If the fans paint names on the bitumen, then good night...I already noticed on the Angliru at the Vuelta how the wheels skid on it.

"If the hill before the finish is to be mastered, one must probably use a 53/15, in order to do well over it.

"We can play more cards than Italy with Cipollini and Pettachi, or Australia who have McEwen and O'Grady." (Team Telekom)

Mario Cipollini

"Selfishly I hope it is me in the sprint."

"I am totally convinced of Ballerini's choices. He has brought riders of great experience; not even at the Festival di San Remo are there so many stars."

Possible winners? "A route with so little difficulty widens the list of the favorites to every rider to make a break. You know them. We, meanwhile, know our strengths and we are convinced we will do a good job. You ask me about Zabel: he is a rider of great character, but there will be also other adversaries." (Acqua e Sapone)

Cipollini (on the eve of the race)

"I'm taking it easy now. I know that tomorrow morning, when leaving the hotel to go to the startline, I'll be aware I have been given the chance to grab the best victory of my career. But I have a clear conscience, as I know that I have done everything I could in order to get the best possible result. The prize at stake is very high, that's for sure, but I hope I'll have a great team beside me, a team where everybody is given a proper chance, but also shows loyalty."

Robbie McEwen

"My chances are good. They are telling me I'm one of the favourites - you never like to say it about yourself - but from the results it makes me one of the favourites if it comes to a sprint. "It depends on the circumstances of the race. Of course, it's getting it exactly right after 260km of racing."

"In the Australian team we know what each other's qualities are. We have three good sprinters and Zolder is quite a flat circuit which is suited to the sprinter, so our tactic is to try and keep the race together for a bunch sprint."

"Being a sprinter the objective is to keep the race together, to stop breakaways or at least catch them back and my team does it by riding on the front of the peloton, setting the pace and bringing me to the finish where basically I sprint the last 200-250 metres." (Independent Online South Africa)

Thanks to Nick White, Manny and Fabio

 
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