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By Fabio
Date: 6/4/2002

After claiming Overall victory the 85th Giro d'Italia, "Il Falco" spoke to Gazzetta della Sport, and said plenty of things about his past, present and future. Here are a few extracts of the interview(s) Index-Alexia's Paolo Savoldelli gave to Italy's #1 sport paper both on Saturday, moments after the decisive ITT which saw him beat American Tyler Hamilton, and on Sunday after the Giro's end.

As to the ways the Giro win might affect his riding in the future, Savoldelli said "I think this pink jersey will help me to become mentally stronger, but it might be a double-sided weapon. From now on people will be there screaming my name and expecting me to do well. But it's very difficult to repeat victory; if you look at the Giro palmares, you'll find very few riders able to win it for more than one time in a row, and the likes of Armstrong, that took three Tours, and Indurain who won five of them, are blatantly superior riders, real top-class Champions".

Time for rewards now. Who, and what, has been more determinant in Paolo's triumph, and in which percentage ? "It's hard to say. Sure that in order to win a Tour of Italy you need luck, perseverance, determination and some help by all (your teammates). I didn't start this Giro with the aim of winning it, also because in the last two seasons things didn't go well, so I had partially lost confidence in myself and started thinking I wasn't a stage-racer any longer. Instead things changed this year, and I went very fast in the Giro's final week, maybe due to the fact that I rode less in the pre-Giro period. In the past years I used to take part in Tour of Trentino and Romandie, and came to the Giro to win it, but in the last week I paid for the efforts I had done in the previous races".

So what's next after the Giro ? "I have no idea about my future targets, now I just want to enjoy this victory, but I am not a "cannibal" by nature. I want to keep on racing, that's for sure, especially now that my morale is high. Of course when you go fast, everything is easier for you, but a rider's character must come out in difficult times".

"Now I'm starting to realize what i did, but I'll realize it even more next year, when at the start of the Giro I'll wonder "how could I win this race last year ?".

Some people who knows "the Falcon" well said he's more of the Tour de France kind than a Giro rider. But the man born in Clusone but living in Rovetta (small town located in the Valle Seraina, on the Hills north of Bergamo) downplayed his chances to be among the "Gande Boucle" protganists, at least in a short time ... "Well, if you want to do well in France, you gotta prepare exclusively for the Tour, as this race tells on you more than the Giro itself, and it's even more nervous. Besides that, in the Tour there's a Super-Armstrong that, especially now that Jan Ullrich has some knee probs, is simply unbeatable. And I haven't done greats thing so far at the TdF, so my chances in the French race remain a mystery to me".

The Giro winner talked of his turning-points in tne 2002 season, when he got the feeling that he could do something good. "When I was racing Tirreno-Adriatico (in March) I realized I was competitive, I could stay with the best riders in the climbs and compete for the final victory, and it was a big moral boost to me. Later I did well at Settimana Bergamasca and even MSR, when five-six riders got clear on the Poggio ascent, and I was among them. So I was feeling that my condition was good. But this year I had no definite target. I just tried not to miss any chance to pick up some good results".

People say Paolo "Baby-Face" Savoldelli is the "clean face" of cycling, who has given fans disappointed by the bad affairs of this year's Giro something to smile and cheer for; but is it a great responsibility ?"Yes, it is. Well, it's true that some of the strongest riders pulled out of competition, but I think I showed something I have I never did before, on the ascents at least. Both in the climbs and the descents I dropped many riders, while climbers that had more than satisfactory results in the past, had some bad days this year".

But what does "il Falco"think is necessary to keep on winning ? "You have to be perseverant, stay calm, train a lot and be a little lucky. And of course you need to have a great engine. Just like Cipollini. He has got a wonderful engine, and is a winner by nature, so he'll keep on winning as long as he continues to ride. As for me, I am not as determined as Mario is, but when things really matter I want to do well".

Even better for Savoldelli, the Giro victory came after two difficult years, a bad time when, as the Falcon" himself told journalists, "I had lost some confidence in myself. I started thinking I was a man for one-day or small-stage races, instead I manged to win a Tour of Italy".

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