| Thanks to the PR department of the Saeco Macchine per Caffe-Longoni Sport Cycling Team, we just recieved these two interviews, one with team manager, Claudio Corti and Saeco's main man in the Giro, Gilberto Simoni.
INTERVIEW WITH CLAUDIO CORTI
Q: Five years after Ivan Gotti won the Giro d'Italia wearing the Saeco jersey, your team will be fighting for overall victory again.
Claudio Corti: We've always been in the action at the Giro and now with Gilberto Simoni we've got one of the best chances of winning. I think Gilberto's win last year showed his class and that he has reached his peak as a rider, so it's logical to expect him to be at the same level this year, even if every race is different and nobody ever knows how it will end.
Q: Also because the rider from Trentino has had a difficult start to the season.
CC: Our team hasn't been very lucky in the first three months of the year. Just a bit more luck would have changed how things went but it still hasn't been a bad start to the season. Simoni has had problems and hasn't been able to ride all the races he would have liked but now is the moment which really counts.
Q: Simoni is the rider who can win the Giro and the Tour de France: The organisers of the Tour have recognised this inviting the Saeco-Longoni Sport team to the Tour.
CC: Yes, I'm sure Simoni and Di Luca will be the in the action at the Tour de France. But lets take things one step at a time and concentrate on the Giro d'Italia first.
Q: All for one and one for all?
CC: It'd be stupid to say otherwise. We've got an important rider as team leader and we'll dedicate our energy to help him. Of course we could also be fortunate and win a stage. The thing I want to underline is the optimum quality of the riders who will start the Giro. Biagio Conte has always ridden well on the flat stages in major stage races, Astarloa and Sacchi have shown their talent, while Mason and Pugaci will be of great help to Simoni in the mountains. While Galletti, Sabaliauskas and Spezialetti will work hard for the whole team.
Q: Your favourites for the Giro?
CC: The same names everybody is thinking about. There are at least five big favourites but it's difficult to say what percentage of winning they have. I can only say that if we have the best possible Simoni, it'll be difficult for anybody to beat him.
INTERVIEW WITH GILBERTO SIMONI
Q: Gilberto Simoni, have you had a more difficult build up to the Giro this year compared to last year?
Gilberto Simoni: I don't think so. Last year's win is a distant memory even if it is something I'll never forget. We can't live on our past and so I'm ready to start all over again.
Q: The first part of the season didn't go as you'd hoped. Are you worried about this for the Giro?
GS: That's how things go in cycling. All you need is a stupid crash and it can change all your plans. We haven't been very lucky recently, both I and Danilo Di Luca. I'd have liked to be more competitive earlier and especially for Liege-Bastogne-Liege and so try and win the Giro del Trentino. It wasn't possible but I'm not going to get upset about it. It's important to be good now.
Q: All your rivals have shown that they're ready.
GS: Casagrande, Garzelli and Frigo aren't new faces. They're in good shape and I have to be careful if I want to beat them. Having won races this year, they're appear to be ahead of me, for now.
Q: Who are you going to worry about the most?
GS: They're all very strong but I'd give Casagrande a bit more of a chance because of his constant ability.
Q: This year you'll be riding both the Giro and the Tour with Armstrong waiting for you.
GS: The news about getting a place in the Tour boosted my moral. It's a big responsibility but I happily accept it.
Q: Many people think it's impossible to be competitive in two major tours in the same season. But you even thought about riding three one year.
GS: To tell you the truth I haven't given up on the idea and this could be the right year for it. It's something we'll decide on further ahead.
Q: How do you imagine this Giro?
GS: Different from other years. The lack of famous climbs will make it more unpredictable.
Q: Do you think the route is less difficult?
GS: No, It'll still be hard and stressful.
Q: When will the racing really begin?
GS: The Giro will be wide open until Campitello Matese, then the real racing will begin.
Q: Which do you think will be the decisive stage?
GS: Folgaria and the two time trials.
Q: After getting over your problems, are you happy about your form?
GS: I'd say yes, I'm almost at my best and that bit I'm missing I think I can find it during the first week of the Giro.
Q: The Saeco-Longoni Sport team be all for you.
GS: I'm sorry I haven't given the team the success I wanted. Especially because I'm really happy about the team. We're very untied and determined to do well. For this reason that I'll have a great team at the Giro.