An Interview with Dario Frigo: The time has come at last ! The time has come for cycling fans, eager to see many big names of the peloton battle in a top-class stage-race (and for most of us lucky Europeans to be able to watch a race live on Tv after a 5-months long break).
But the time has come for Dario Frigo too, as the Italian will finally made his comeback on Sunday after spending the last nine months far from the races (as you all know, due to the doping affair involving him at last year's Giro d'Italia).
During this period, the rider some say has got one of the most bizarre hair in the peloton has found a new team, as he moved to Tacconi Sport-Emmegi (former Tacconi Sport-Vini Caldirola), and even new motivations to start again and forget (and make people forget) about the not that positive things he became famous for the last time his name was on cycling fans' lips.
So what are Frigo's hopes and goals for the future ? And how is the man's current state of form and mood ? The Lombard rider (living with his wife Susanna in Biella, in the Piedmont region of Italy) said it all in an interview given to the "Gazzetta dello Sport" paper at the eve of his official comeback in the Paris-Nice, the race he won last year, and where he'll start with the Number 1 on the back of his jersey.
"I'm definitely eager to race" Frigo said to Gazzetta's Fabrizio Salvio "Nine months are a very long period, and as cycling is in my blood, I really want to get back in the saddle, and do it the best way possible. I prepared myself in the best way possible. I couldn't ask for more to myself. And now the roads will tell me whether I worked well or not".
But not ordinary roads: the ones of Paris-Nice, a contest which saw him as a protagonist in recent years, winner in 2001, and that seems particularly appropriate for the guy. This time things will be a little different of course, as Frigo won't be there with the GC in his mind, but just hoping to find positive answers to all of his doubts and questions concerning his state of form. Won't you Dario ? "I'm going there in complete tranquillity. I've done all I had to so far, and now I'm curious to know the other riders condition, and compare theirs to mine. I'm feeling good now, but you know, not taking part in any race for the last nine months is a big handicap to me. Nonetheless, my main target remains to get back to my early 2001 level as soon as possible".
And perhaps one of the most demanding stages of the French race, the leg finishing up to Mont Faron on Saturday (where another Italian, Michele Bartoli, triumphed less than one month ago) could give him the perfect chance to test his condition and hit the headlines for positive reasons. But Frigo remains quite prudent: "Sure the Paris-Nice parcours is hard, even more than in previous years. I like it, and I'd like to get there in a different state of form. You know, I haven't been racing for the past nine months, thus I have no reference point now. But the fact of starting with the #1 jersey, and the way this race always fascinates me might be two further motivations for me to try and do my best. I hope I may get back to my previous levels very soon, but also need a bit of luck after such a bad period".
Of course Frigo's #1 seasonal target is the 2002 Giro, although "Tere are other important races before, competitions where I did well last year. So I think the best thing I could do is taking one step at a time, and racking up as many satisfactions as possible before the Giro. The Tour if Italy suits me, that's true, but it's a 3-week race where everything may happen, and you always run the risk to lose it for one reason or another. So for the time being I only care about starting again in the best fashion, without thinking about the Giro".
Click on the link below to read Podofdonny's excellent PREVIEW OF THE RACE.