Dario Frigo is back: after the dramatic conclusion of last year's Giro, the headlines he hit in quite a different way from the one he would have preferred, the sacking by Fassa, the anti-doping inquiry and the long ban awarded by the Italian Cycling Federation, the 28-year-old Lombard (born in Saronno near Varese on September 18, 1973), living in the Piedmont region since his marriage, gets back to the Tour of Italy's startline, with mainly one thing in his mind: to forget (and make people forget) about the past with a great, hopefully winning, performance.
And the man's most recent results say he might even succeed: the Tacconi Sport-Emmegi new signing has just given his brand new squad their first overall victory in a Hors Category stage-race, as for the second year in a row Frigo captured the prestigious Tour de Romandie, where he also took a stage with a great solo effort under tremendous weather. With such a "background", few doubts that the guy is entitled to be among the Giro's main favorites, and that "Gazzetta dello Sport" decided to interview him before the race kicks off on Saturday.
"I'd like to go on the same way I have done so far this year, while building-up for the Giro. I've given everything since the moment I was back to racing, and the Giro results should be a consequence of all the work I have done. I really want to race and try to win, but I don't feel like making excessive promises right now. Every season has its own features, and a comparison between my current condition and last year's would make no sense. Sure that winning Tour de Romandie was a good sign, also because that contest was one of my two targets for the first two months of racing: the other was Paris-Nice. In France I lost due to an echelon, in Switzerland things went much better, and I became the only Italian able to win a HC Stage-race so far in 2002".
But in spite of his victory, newspapers and medias in genreal still seem to be more interested in last year's "Giro affair", and Frigo is a little polemical: "They still prefer to remind what happened and what I didn't last year, rather than talking of what I've done so far in the new season. But to know people are on my side and forgave me is enough for me".
So time to stop talking of the past, and pay attention to the coming Giro bid: what does he think of the route ? "It may look like a bit less difficult than in previous years, but there are dangers scattered everywhere along the route. My current condition is good, but I'll have to be careful and try not to make any mistake, particularly in the first four stages, when the biggest threat will likely come from the wind. But the first leg really able to make the difference would likely be Stage 5, with its uphill finish to Limone Piemonte, and also a demanding climb with 30 km. to go, which comes after a rest day, and not every rider reacts in the same way after the rest. So I think some contenders might have troubles there".
But as the hardest climbs are concentrated in the last days of competiton "I think the decisive moments should come in the final week, and it will be fundamental to be in top form during those seven days. Stage 18, finishing up to Folgaria, worries me more than Val Badia's previous leg, as its 20-km. final climb is a very, very long one. True that "Queen" Stage 17 encompasses both Fedaia and Pordoi, but they are far from the finishing line, and the last ascent of the day, Passo di Campolongo, is only 4 km-long".
As for the Time Trials, Frigo believes that "The Numana stage will prove important, whereas the penultimate day's ITT in Monticello Brianza won't change anything, unless the gap between the highest-placed riders is minimal".
So does the man regard this Giro's route as appropriate to him ? "Not just to me, but also to Garzelli and Casagrande".
Seems that he forgot last year's main rival, Gilberto Simoni, but there are no doubts that the reigning champion will be there, fighting with the Tacconi Sport-Emmegi's leader and the two other main favorites (plus some eventual surprising darkhorse) in a great battle whose outcome, with a little more than 24 hours to the start, remains more unpredictable than ever.