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Pavel Tonkov: I proved I'm not a man of the past !
By Fabio
Date: 5/30/2002
Pavel Tonkov: I proved I'm not a man of the past !
Russia's Pavel Tonkov, winner of the most difficult stage in the "Corsa Rosa", sounded very satisfied after taking his first Giro stage victory in 4 years. The images of the man for Izhevsk, capital city of the Udmurt Republic in the Urals area of Russia, raising his arms in triumph bring cycling fans back to 1998, when the then Mapei's rider claimed Stage 18 (Selva di val Gardena-Alpe di Pampeago, km. 115), curiously in the same Trentino region where he repeated victory in today's gruelling leg.

After that win, and the second place overall in Milan, bad times came, also including his experience in the Mercury team, which ended abruptly in 2001, and kept him far from the races for most of the last season. Such that many fans and observers were already forgetting about him, fascinated by the new climbing sensations, the likes of Oscar Sevilla, Pérez Cuapio, Pellizotti and others. But on Thursday good "old" (33-year-old) Pavel said bye to the Mexican himself and soloed to vicitory, thus reminding many of his presence .

And, as the Madrid-based (after spending many years in Italy, he moved to Spain as he married an Hiberian girl, who gave him a son some time ago) said in a post-race interviews, it was "A well needed victory for sure. I'm extremely happy now, as I showed I'm not a man of the past, even if many thought it. Yes, I still can win. It's a pity that the Tour of Italy is about to end now, just while I am getting a very good shape. I wasn't in top form at the start, I just was at 70% of my best condition, so I knew I was going to lose some time to the others. An that's what actually happened. But in the last days things improved ... Now I must think about my next target anyway: the Tour of Spain, which I'd like to race in the best possible way".

The man also regretted the fact that some health probs he had in March affected his Giro build-up and prevented him from having an even better performance, but promised that next year he will be there, trying to do well again !!

Tonkov's last words in the interview were for Lampre-Daikin, the team that believed in him and "helped me a lot, also by giving me the chance to take part in this Giro. I'm very happy for them too".

Pietro Caucchioli: The Alessio rider, now second overall, said that "Today I didn't try and attack just because I didn't have the legs. Unfortunately even in these situations you still have to put some time on your rivals. So I made a try in order to gain as much time as possible on Hamilton, and I was lucky that I found Garate and Totsching, who were pulling hard, such that (not easily though) I managed to stay on their wheels until the finishing line. I must thank a lot my own teammates, who worked hard all through the Giro, but unfortunately got very few results. Congratulations to Savoldelli, as in the very final of such a difficult stage as today's, after 200 km. of racing, he launched a strong attack and did a very good thing. He is the rider that improved most in the final week of competition, and his eventual final victory would be a truly deserved one".

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