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Panaria - Fiordo 2003
By Podofdonny
Date: 1/5/2003
Panaria - Fiordo 2003

The small team of Panaria-Fiordo had a roller coaster year in 2002, for every success in racing there seemed to be an equal amount of regret as Faat Zakirov, Giuliano Figueras, Filippo Perfetto, Nicola Chesini, and Antonio Varriale (Ita) all found themselves being investigated in relation to dopage.

However the president of the team, Giuliano Mussini, declared that the team will remain in cycling and will come back this season stronger with full confidence in the Directeur Sportif, Bruno Reverberi.

"If the full weight of the law improves things, so much the better. Our love of cycling will not be endangered by the mistakes of a few," said Mussini.

The team rosta for 2003 is now completed and consists of 13 riders; once again Bruno Reverberi has gathered together a mixture of youth experience and multi-national talent for the coming campaign.

Team Leader Giuliano Figueras first caught international headlines when he became the under 23 Champion of the World in Lugano in 1996. Turning professional in 1998 with the Mapei team, he achieved his first success in Malaysia winning the Langkawi Queen stage in the Genting Highlands, and consolidated his position the following year in Europe with six victories. However in 2000, having to ride continually for Mapeis great captains like Bartoli, Bettini, Tafi and Tonkov, the Neapolitan lost his way and fell out with the team's patron Squinzi. The Reverberi brothers Bruno and Roberto, the leading force behind the Ceramiche Panaria-Fiordo team, were quick to offer Giuliano a place and in 2001. He consolidated his position, finishing an encouraging 10th in the Giro.

The early season signs for 2002 were encouraging for an improvement on that position. He was second only to Garzelli and ahead of Casagrande in the GP Industria e Artigianato - Larciano 1.2 on 04/05/02 and won the Giro dell Appennino 1.2 on 01/05/02.

However, a few days later and the Neapolitan, involved in an affaire related to banned substances found by the Carabinieri anti-drug squads during the famous 2001 Giro raids in the San Remo hotels, got a suspension by the Italian Cycling Federation's Disciplinary Commission.

Figueras will restart his career on 8 February and he looks forward to the start with anticipation and regrets on what has been a year of mis-fortune and personal loss.

Speaking to Gazzetto dello Sport he said:

”The biggest problem has been 9 months without racing," however the unexpected death of his father in November was obviously a huge trama in the young man's life.

"In the beginning I felt a great sense of emptiness and loss, particularly because I still live with my family. Then, slowly slowly, I have come to terms with my mourning: now I feel I have new armour that I did not have before."

"For 2003 I can only promise total commitment, I intend to give 100%. I do not know if it will be enough to win, but I intend to be competitive from Sanremo to Lombardy. As for ambitions in the Giro, I will need a full season racing before I could consider myself a Tour contender. I know that my time trialing is a handicap, but I fear that if I were to concentrate on improving that, it may be to the detriment of other aspects of my racing."

So, the Neapolitan looks for a season of stage wins and one day success, after what has been a 2002 he is probably glad to see finished.

Graeme Brown (Aus), a member of the four-man team that smashed the world 4km record at the Commonwealth Games in Manchester, created waves and received rave reviews in his first year as a professional rider after winning two stages in this year's LTdL.

The 22 year-old Sydney-born Brown earned honours in this year's Commonwealth Games (4km Team Pursuit and Scratch Race), winner of points race in the Track World Cup in Russia, stage wins in LTdL (Stage 6 and Stage 10). He also finished second behind world champion and the legendary Mario Cippolini in Stage 1 of this year's Giro d'Italia.

Sergey Matveyev, the Ukrainian time trial specialist, made his mark on the international scene with an excellent eighth place in the World Championship time trial in France in 2000, has been a pro with Reverberi since 2001 and has won stages in Circuit Des Mines (2.5) and Grand Premio Europa (1.5).

One rider who needs no introduction is Julio Alberto Perez. “Lucky” recently spoke to the Gazzetta about his hopes for 2003: "Sooner or later I hope to win the Giro. I have learned a lot in the two Giros I have competed in. I have begun to learn how to control my attacks - to attack at the right moment. I must climb with my regular rhythm, making speed, but without forcing myself too hard. I feel myself ready and mature; stage victories are not enough for me any more. The next Giro is a hard one, with 5 mountain top finishes. I intend to train on the Zoncolan and dell'Alpe di Pampeago. I will have to suffer on the flat days as always: but hopefully the team will be stronger this year. But my ambition is to be on the podium if things go to plan - if something goes wrong I still hope to finish in the top ten."

Perez has been working hard with his coach, Davide Morelli, on his ability in the time trial. "I know that in order to win the Giro you must be strong in this specialty - it will be important not to lose more than 20-30’’ against the main contenders. I feel I am improving season after season, and riders do tend to mature after they are 26-27 years old." To read another article on “Lucky” click here.

Meanwhile Bruno Reverberi has used his small budget wisely, bringing in the highly experienced Italian Paolo Lanfranchi,. The Gazzaniga-born Italian, who joined the pro ranks in 1993, left Index Alexia to join Panaria Fiordo this season, after being with Mapei Quickstep in 1999 and 2001 and Index-Alexia 2002. Lanfranchi was Panaria's final signing this season, completing a list of 13 riders in the team's roster for 2003.

Lanfranchi's major achievements in 2002 include third overall in the GP Kantan Aargau in Switzerland (UCI-category 1.1) in June, 12th overall in Milan-San Remo in March and 8th overall in 2002 Telekom Malaysia Le Tour de Langkawi. Lanfranchi is known for his climbing skills and is a consistent top twenty finisher in the major Tours - his wealth of experience could be vital to his younger team mates.

Panaria - Fiordo 2003

Team Manager - Bruno Reverberi

Sport Director - Roberto Reverberi

Assistant: Renato Braguglia


Claudio Bartoli (Ita) -

Graeme Brown (Aus) -

Guillermo Buongiorno (Arg)

Scott Davis (Aus) -

Giuliano Figueras (Ita) -

Fabio Gilioli (Ita) -

Brett Lancaster (Aus) -

Paolo Lanfranchi (Ita) -

Sergey Matveyev (Ukr) -

Luca Mazzanti (Ita) -

Julio Alb. Perez Cuapio (Mex) -

Filippo Perfetto (Ita) -

Paolo Tiralongo (Ita) -

All photos and special thanks to the Tour de Langkawi official site - please pay this excellent site a visit by clicking here.

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