Tafi, cosa fai: smetti o cerchi il riscatto?
(Tafi: what are you doing: stopping or restarting?)
Original article appeared in Bicisport Magazine. Photos by
Tafi on the Manayunk Wall, Philadelphia 2003.
What ever happened to Andrea Tafi? The Tuscan racer was more absent than
present. Only 2 millisecond flashes return to mind and rip into the darkness of
12 months spent in the shadows. Do you remember the misfortune in Roubaix, with
those multiple punctures that virtually placed him outside the box in one of his
brightest days? And Camaiore, when he was in a break on the last lap and had
even lapped the field? Apart from these flashes, there is little else. Always
far from the heart of the races, which conflicts with his characteristic traits.
In these races, he rode from one moment to another, almost forgotten.
Why did we see so little of you at the front of the group?
"Iíve been paying for the fall in Prato in September of 2002. I hit my face
and fractured my cheekbone."
At the end of the winter, you looked healed.
"Correct, everything seemed OK, but gradually during this racing season,
these annoying ramifications popped up. They were accentuated."
"Little by little, the left side of my nose actually became 99% blocked."
And what troubles did that give you?
"I coped with it at the beginning, but I couldnít breathe through my nose, so
I used the next best thing, my mouth. And thatís when my throat started to have
After the Tour of Denmark, I took a month and a half of antibiotics. But
still, after all of this, I couldnít lick the problem. I would then stop for two
days. As soon as I returned on the bike, the sore throat would also return. My
glands got swollen along with a light fever. From August on, I suffered so
It wasnít a good situation.
Correct. I was demoralized. I felt so alone. I would be in front of the TV
and I felt worse. I too could have been in those races I was watching. But I
would leave for a training ride and the fever would return."
And what was found in the analysis?
"I did everything that was possible, but nothing was working."
How did you remedy this situation?
Thanks to Professor Brizzi from Florence. Gianmattei and Castellacci sent me
to him. He zeroed in on the nasal problems, I had a scan and he decided to
"Brizzi advised against operating, however he was going to drain all of the
canals. Even if the crash did all of that damage, according to him, this total
flushing, rehoning, and total cleaning should be enough. In two visits, and with
the laser, he opened up the canals by removing a little cartilage."
And now how are things?
The function is not 100%, but enough air is passing through that I can
breathe just like I did a year ago."
You stayed off the bike?
"I did not pedal for two and a half months. I was doing only gym work but I
restarted on November 15th, approximately one month earlier than usual."
It looks like you are in a hurry to forget this awful year.
"I am 37 years old, I could have said 'enough!' After 16 years in the
professional ranks, I think I can truly say I gave so much."
Instead, your character is suggesting what?
"To slow down now is not in me, because the results were lacking not because
of inefficiency, but only because of physical problems. I know I could still
compete well in the races. I just want a jump start."
And with what objectives?
It will be a very hard season but I want to do well with my new Alessio team.
Then we have the Olympics. The Italian National Championships are real close to
my house and where my parents live. And then the World Championships in Verona.
I saw the Worlds in Hamilton and I think that someone like me could be real
useful and instrumental to the team."
And how about Roubaix?
"I never forget about that race, I just did not highlight it."
The 2004 season could be your last?
Yes, it could be. I will fight to arrive at my maximum and I am convinced
that I could be at the same height as my rivals. But if I donít feel good, no
sensations, I would prefer to say enough. I want to leave a beautiful record to
Tafi at Flanders 2002, where he won.
Andrea Tafiís career highlights:
2002 Tour of Flanders - World Cup
2000 Paris-Tours - World Cup
1999 Paris-Roubaix - World Cup
1998 Italian National Champion
1997 Rochester Classic - World Cup
1996 Giro di Lombardia - World Cup
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