Cipollini: I can beat Binda's record
Mario Cipollini (going for the new record of Giro stage wins, currently held by Alfredo Binda with 41 victories, one more than Super Mario): "The joy you feel after achieving such great results as taking Milan-San Remo, winning the World Title, or sprinting to victory in several Giro stages provides me with further motivations in doing well, and trying to be even more successful.
I'll have to face new challenges, another MSR as well as setting the new Giro stage wins record number. That would be a good way to celebrate and honour the Rainbow jersey. I believe that an athlete can always find big motivations while doing his job.
As for Giro stage victories, I think I'll be given several chances to equal and beat the record during next year's competition, starting from the opener in Lecce. This route gives plenty of opportunities to sprinters indeed. Actually in this Giro there's a little bit of everything, for all kinds of riders".
Savoldelli: beware the Fauniera climb
Reigining Champion Paolo Savoldelli: "The final time trial was usually held on the penultimate day. This time it has been postponed by 24 hours. But this change would hardly have a bigger impact on the final outcome, with all those climbs coming before. I think that the strongest guys, the ones in the best form, will prevail, although the recent Vuelta saw a change at the top of the ranking right on the last day of racing.
You always have to be off to a good start in the Giro, but with all time trials coming in the last week, the 2003 route will probably give riders some time to test their cindition, a running-in period we could use to find the best possible form. I think the Fauniera stage (18), encompassing four different ascents and so many uphill kms., is perhaps the hardest, and definitely an extremely important, one. If you have troubles on the Fauniera in such a stage, with a descent and another difficult climb immediately following, you can pay a high price".
Garzelli: the sanction might affect my performance:
2000 Overall Winner Stefano Garzelli (click here for reading another interview with the man): "I like the 2003 Giro route. In my opinion is the best one in recent years, with good climbs and time-trials. I'll do my best to get to the start in top form. although my build-up for the Giro will be different than in recent years. I'll be at the startline with just one week or two of racing in my legs, after 11 months far from competitive cycling, and this may affect my performances, but I'll work hard in order to find a good condition. Then the Giro roads and mountains will tell how good or bad my work has been.
I don't know whether I'll be particularly under pressure after last year's events, it's too early to tell. Certainly they'll try to put some pressure on me, but just the way it has always been, and will always be, or perhaps a little more; it should be up to me to handle such situations anyway.
Next year's Giro will not feature "historical" climbs such as Mortirolo, Stelvio and others. But sometimes those ascents, in spite of the big names and fear they strike into riders, may prove less hard and selective than expected, especially when they are far from the finishing line. On the contrary, climbs like Zoncolan or the ascents to be tackled in the Piedmont stage (18), may hurt many a good riders".
Simoni: I like the route
2001 Overall Winner Gilberto Simoni (who shared with Garzelli not just the "Maglia rosa" on the Milan podium, but also an unfortunate 2002 Tour of Italy, affecting the rest of their season too): "This race has always provided me with big motivations. And I think the next Tour of Italy, with five uphill finishes, and stages scattered all over Italy, will be a very good one. Unlike last year, when I was a bit sceptical (although I think that, if being able to get to Milan, I would have had a good result), this time I fully appreciate the route, I think it gives me some chances to win. The hillier, the better.
The presence of two ITTs in the last week is something new, and the way it might affect the final outcome has yet to be determined; they will keep the suspense high anyway. As for myself, there are two legs where I can really try and attack: the one going up to Pampeago, and the Fauniera stage, where there's no place you can recover if you lose some time. All you have to do on the climbs is waiting to match your rivals and try to beat them on the road. The Zoncolan is unkown to me too, I shall inspect it in the next weeks. I'm curious and eager to test it, but not scared.
The final victory will likely be a matter of few riders, but I think that many guys aiming for the top place in Milan will be at the startline. The first top mountain finish (Monte Terminillo, stage 7) will not tell the name of the future overall winner, but may say something about who he will not be".
Caucchioli. time trials will prove decisive
2002 Podium Finisher Pietro Caucchioli (Click here to read another separate interview with the Alessio rider): "It's a demanding route for sure. I think that like in all previous occasions, the final week will prove decisive. There's room for everyone, with challenging climbs, but even more important time trials, able to make the gap even more than hilly stages could. As for my team, according to Alessio's strategies there's no single captain, everyone may try to get the best possible result. I'll do my best and try to go as fast as possible. But we'll see (who the leader is) when on the road.
I hope I may do well in the Fauniera stage, the hardest and most important mountain stage. I know the ascent, and the relative descent (downhills are not exactly Caucchioli's strongest point), as I took sixth in 1999 after going on a break, at the end of a similar leg, also encompassing that climb. The prospect of tackling such a descent on a solo break, without any reference points, is a bit scaring to me, but I'll try to stay with the best climbers on the ascent, and follow them on the descent too".
Pellizotti: I hope I may take a stage
Italy's prospect Franco Pellizotti "I agree with Pietro (Caucchioli) on the great significance of the ITTs. In the past years we didn't see any real mountain goat (able to win thanks to his climbing skills only); you have to be also a fast time triallists to become a serious GC threat. So I think the 2003 Giro winner will be the climber with the best time trialling skills.
A route featuring five top mountain finishes looks appropriate for my skills. But the road will tell. I'll try to go as fast as possible, and hope that also Caucchioli may do well, such that victory may become a matter of us two, who knows ...
In the 2002 Giro I went for a stage win, but made some mistakes, which I hope I shall not repeat next year. To clinch a stage victory will be my first target, and of course I'll be trying where the route mostly suits my skills, namely in mountain stages. To win on the Zoncolan would be source of a very big satisfaction to me, both as I like that climb, and the stage ends on "home roads".
Gotti: The 2003 route brings good memories of the past to me
Two-time winnerIvan Gotti is hopeful: "I like this Giro. The route is very similar to the 1997 and 1999 courses, and I had won both of them".
Algeri: A Giro for climbers
Lampre's Team Manager Pietro Algeri "I think the 2003 Giro route is nice. I like it, although I would prefer a race starting with a prologue against the clock. But next year's opening stage will give sprinters the chance to wear the first "maglia rosa", and that's an important thing anyway.
Uphill distances are more or less the same as last year, but this time big stages come in the last part of the competition, such that they will have a major impact on the overall standings. With five mountain top finishes, including 2 or 3 very difficult ones, this is a Giro for climbers.
There is the Terminillo, an ascent we know well, and always a difficult challenge, even when it is tackled in the first week. And the Monte Zoncolan, a long and demanding climb, coming in the end of a great stage. And the most difficult one, the Alto di Pampeago, the last challenge in a Dolomitic stage encompassing also the Rolle Pass, Valles and San Pellegrino.
I know the Pampeago climb well. Pavel Tonkov won a stage there ahead Marco Pantani in 1998. I was Pavel's sport director at the time, and he finished second overall in Milan. What a great Giro it was !
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