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86th Giro d'Italia - Stage 12 Interviews
By Fabio
Date: 5/23/2003
86th Giro d'Italia - Stage 12 Interviews

Claudio Ferretti (RAI TV Journalist): "Today's stage had many winners: Simoni took the stage, Garzelli limited his losses, and Pantani won thanks to his comeback". But now, after Simoni put less than he expected into his main challengers, the Pampeago stage, even if less decisive than the Zoncolan on paper, will prove fundamental".

Gilberto Simoni: "I came here to test this climb twice before the Giro. And today many things has gone the way I expected to, including the extraordinary attendance along the route, and the huge efforts I made on the climb. But I wasn't in great shape, so decided to make my move in the last part of the stage only. I thought that I was going to gain some more time than I actually did, but eventually I even struggled. At some point I wanted to get off my bike and keep walking".

"Garzelli had a good stage, but there's the Pampeago stage yet, and lots of things to be done in the next two days. No, today I wasn't in top shape. I probably paid a little for the efforts of the last days, but nonetheless managed to win. And that's a good thing. My next target is gaining some more time in the Pampeago stage".

"I told my team-mates to lift the pace in the first part of the ascent, I couldn't ask for more from them, as they had worked a lot earlier in the stage too. I expected attacks from riders needing to make up for the time previously lost, such as Casagrande. But they didn't come. Everyone was waiting. So I made the first move in the end. This victory is among the best ones so far in my career, at least because of the way I had to struggle. I even had to use the 39x28 gear, I wanted to get off my bike and got to the end by feet".

Peloton's veteran Roberto Conti (38, Mercatone Uno-Scanavino): "The things got very tough in the last three kilometres only, that's where we had to use the 39x28. But in the rest of the ascent we didn't use more that the 25 in the worst case. Pantani ? His comeback makes me so happy. He comes from two difficult years. This year I told him to keep quiet and work hard. You have to work hard to get back to certain levels. He did, and it's now getting back to his ancient ways. Marco may have done some mistakes, but he has been treated unfairly, and suffered a lot because of that, as he's a good-hearted boy after all!".

Francesco Moser: "Gilberto told me he came here more than once in order to inspect the climb, as the first time there was snow at the top and he couldn't get there, thus missing the most difficult part. But after he finally saw it, Simoni told me the 39x28 was needed. That's when I realized how challenging it was. I do think that, if they got got off their bikes and walked to the line, they could go faster than if they stayed in the saddle".

Marco Pantani: "This stage was exciting for sure, but the efforts I did mean even more to me than the pleasure for this result gave me. I knew that I was improving, but not to such an extent. I didn't expect to go so fast. But I'm not in top form yet anyway".

Mario Cipollini (on his way back home): "I watched the stage on TV and enjoyed it a lot. Cycling is regaining what it lost in recent years. I do share your praises and happiness for Pantani's comeback, I think it's just the beginning of the complete comeback of a man this sport needs in order to entertain people and regain their interest. As for yesterday's sprint, I watched the images again, and must say that I was lucky than nothing worse happened. These are the risks a rider runs when he does such a job, but organizers should help us avoid them, and sometimes it doesn't happen".

As for the the Tour de France "We didn't get any further news today. Tomorrow's meeting between (Domina Vacanze team boss) Ernesto Preatoni and Jean-Marie Leblanc will be our last chance. I am confident, and hope that journalists and people into the cycling environment may unite and help Leblanc change his mind. I think that after I had to abandon the Giro, I left something uncomplete. I think I have got the right to go the Tour, where I want to prove that I didn't take this (rainbow) jersey by chance.

About the bike he intended to use in the last kms. of today's stage "Welll, we didn't know the climb, but knew for sure that it was a very hard one, so we opted for a particular bike".

As for today's stage, and overall standings: "Simoni once again proved that he's the best climber, but gained less time than he wanted. The race is still uncertain, if we can call it that way, and it makes this Giro even more appealing".

Vincenzo Santoni (Domina Vacanze DS): "The bike we had in store for the last part of the stage was a Specialized MTB, but with the wheels of a road bike. Mario often has strange ideas in his mind, you know. But luckily we have got "crazy Americans" like the Specialized guys, that built this "mix" between an MTB and a road bike, with three pedal wheels, that could have helped him to tackle to ascent better".

Candido Cannavů (former director of the "Gazzetta dello Sport" newspaper). "More than a real mountain, the Zoncolan looks like a fearful 3-km. "wall", coming after quite an average climb. Other climbs go up more continuously. Surely no other ascent can match the last 3 kms of this one ..."

Silvio Martinello (former professional rider, now a RAI TV commentator): All main overall contenders honoured this stage in big style. Tonkov, Rumsas and Pellizotti did a little worse than the others, even though Pellizotti has time on his side. He's still young and needs to gain more experience. Pantani could have done even better if he hadn't stubbornly wasted some energies in a one-on-one challenge with Garzelli. Neither of them wasted a chance to come around the other. Probably there's a rivalry between them. In any case Pantani paid for that as he likely lost the chances of a better placing".

"As for Simoni, he maybe expected to put some more time into his rivals, as the steep final ascent suited his skills, he might probably do better, than this. But we'd better not forget how much he spent two days ago, in the stage finishing into Faenza. The efforts took their toll. But even though he got less than expected, he put about 30" into his main rivals. And, you know, taking thirty seconds today, thirty seconds tomorrow, plus the time bonuses, Simoni opened quite a significative gap, it's not enough for him to be excessively confident, but he still has more than one stage at disposal".

Stefano Garzelli, (as if he was listening to Martinello's words): "Pantani and me worked well together. I also must thank him, as his presence gave me extra-motivation".

Ivan Gotti: "I had the chance to watch cycling from a different perspective: I watched the stage among the crowd on the route, cheered my former colleagues. I know how many efforts riders have to make on the climbs, and today's climb was very challenging. I didn't know it before".

"Italian cycling is getting back to high levels, also thanks to a champion such as Pantani; even if he has been a rival of mine for many years, it was a source of big emotion for me to see him back in the first places today. As far as I know him, I can see he's riding well now".

"I made the decision to abandon cycling in January, and I have no regrets about that. I got plenty of satisfactions throughout my career, including two winning two Giros, and sooner or later the time comes when you have to stop".

Giovanni Lombardi: Today's stage was very difficult for us sprinters, with attacks coming right since the first ascent of the day. I hope there's some more stages left for sprinters to show our skills. I wished Mario could stay here with us, trying to improve further the Giro stage wins record, but it didn't happen. And now I hope we may be here trying again next year, anyway".

Dario Pieri (Saeco): "Gilberto Simoni is in an extraordinary condition. I'm very happy for him and our team. Saeco did well in many races, and got several wins. But now I hope we may get the most significant one, and take the pink jersey all the way to the end. I am also happy that Pantani is back as well. Italian cycling needs him. Sure we have already got the likes of Garzelli and Simoni, but Pantani has always meant a lot to fans, and his comeback is a good thing (for cycling)".

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