Saturday’s victory, the second in a row in the last Classic of the season, definitely was a great one for Michele Bartoli. But at the same time, it left a bittersweet taste. Indeed, even though he must be happy with his showdown on the hills of Lombardy, “The Warrior” can’t help but regret not being giving the chance to show his current condition at the Hamilton Worlds where, with such legs, he might have had a lot of things to say.
So, even if at September’s Giro dell’Emilia he stated that “The Tour of Lombardy will be my World Championshisps”, when talking (in different interviews) to RAI TV and “Gazzetta dello Sport” journalists after his Lombardia triumph Bartoli couldn’t help but get back to the Hamilton topic, and although Italy’s team coach Ballerini was never mentioned explicitly, Bartoli’s words were clear enough, and so was whom his remarks were addressed to.
And things couldn’t be different, with Bartoli starting his RAI interview by saying that ”This victory is just a further proof of the fact that, when I am given the chance, I can achieve great results. And this is a great result. It also confirms my suspicion that in a race like last Sunday’s World Championships I could have been of help to the team, either working for Bettini’s eventual victory, or going for my own success”.
As for the next challenges “I know that more World Championships will come, and hope I won’t be sidelined on a priori grounds”. Asked whether he was thinking of changing his nationality, should the man be excluded again from the “Squadra Azzurra”, Bartoli responded that “(When I said it) I was just kidding, of course. But sure I want to race the Verona Worlds and the Olympics, if my condition is good as it should be. Everything may happen”.
And of course Bartoli wasn’t asked World Championship-related questions only. He also talked of his most recent victory: ”Yes. I hoped I could win today, I knew that my condition was good, but sometimes that’s not enough, sometimes you also need a bit of luck, and I can say that I have been lucky today. Such that, in the end, I was up to quite a comfortable victory”.
And again “This was the most important late season contest to me, and I did my best to win. I was a bit skeptical on the eve, because of a quite a strong tracheitis, but as the race progressed, things were going better, and at the end I was really ok.“ As for the “race dynamics”, Bartoli pointed out that it was the route that made the difference: “and the best ones remained at the front in the last part of the race, competing for victory”.
In his RAI interview, Bartoli also had kind words for his former teammate Paolo Bettini: ”I definitely congratulated Bettini on his World Cup Overall win, I’m happy for him”. And for Fassa Bortolo, the team he’s going to leave in order to join CSC for the 204 season. This Giro di Lombardia was the man’s “last time” with the “silver team”, but unlike when he left Mapei, this time Bartoli had only positive words for his team.
First when he spoke right after crossing the line, and dedicated his victory to the Fassa’s team bosses, and later, when he got back to the same subject, adding that “I’ll keep good memories of Fassa, I’m not going away because I was feeling uncomfortable in the team. Quite the opposite: I was ok there, I have got many friends, it’s like a family to me. I just chose to move to Bjarne Riis’ squad as I think he is the right guy, and he gave me reasons good enough to join his team. And I’m sure that we can do well together".
More words from Michele Bartoli, taken all the way from The Warrior's own website, are available in Podfodonny's News-Roundup (see link below)