Here is what the champions of the present and the past and other cycling personalities said after the route of the 2002 Giro d'Italia was unveiled.
A Giro for everyone? That's what comes out, after hearing
opinions and interviews from many riders and journalists. There are no "historical" hard climbs, perhaps apart from the Bondone, which reminds of Gauly's legendary win in 1956 under tremendous weather conditions, but is not as difficult as the Mortirolo anyway. So both Simoni and Pantani were complaining a bit, while Cipollini and Frigo sounded quite happy of the chances given to sprinters and and Time-Triallists respectively. The presence of Belgian roads you may usually see during the spring classics could finally take to the GIRO; even one-day riders such as National Champion Daniele Nardello, and made others such as Bettini happy.
Simoni: The defending champion said from the Palazzo dello Sport in Trento where they were celebrating the "Simoni Day": "Today's
'celebrations' are a big emotion to me; the 2001 season, and the Giro win in particular, gave a lot to me, and the next Tour of Italy will be extremely important; as for the route, well, perhaps I expected something more (e.g. more hard climbs), but it's up to me to "fill" eventual gaps."
"It's a nice Giro: it doesn't seem too hard; there's room for everyone.
The organizers introduced good climbs, but even riders with different features could do well. There is no very hard stages, though. Climbers have their chances, but the long Time Trials could be harmful to some Italin riders aiming for the final
"It's a well balanced Giro, without very hard climbs, but including two demanding Time Trials. And there are insidious stages, where a bit of fantsay will be required. It's a hard Giro. As for me, I'm looking for a revenge after last year, and I think the course suits me. The increase in number of time-trial kilometres makes me
Whom do you consider a more dangerous rival, Simoni or Pantani? "Both. But also other riders could be dangerous. The Giro starts in May, and we are in November only, anyway. We have plenty of time for making predictions before
Which stages could be decisive? "The first Time Trial and the first uphill finish could tell something about the GC, but the final four stages will prove to be
"Yes, it's a very balanced course. There are two demanding mountain stages, but the Time Trials are difficult too. I think the ITT disputed around Numana (stage) will be fundamental for the GC. In any case, I think it's a Giro
without favourites. Last year I was forced out by a crash in Stage One. I feel like I didn't take part in the Giro either. So this year I'll be searching fo a revenge, and the Giro will be my #1 goal for the first part of the season. Of course I'll be aiming for the final win."
Whom do you consider a more dangerous rival, Simoni or Pantani? "Both are dangerous and go fast. But as Dario pointed out, other riders will certainly get to the Giro in a very good condition."
Which stages could be decisive? "The Numana Time Trial and two mountain stages, the one finishing up to Folgaria in particular. And the
last TT on the penultimate day will definitively shape the
Cipollini: Here is an interview with the "Lion
King," present at Milan' Auditorium where the Giro route was unveiled.
Q: What do you think about this new Giro you will race with a new team, and a new desire to prove you are still the number one sprinter ?
A: Of course I'm going for wins, but I don't think I have to prove anything to anybody. I'm doing my job with the usual motivation, and I'll be aiming for some victories; wins are the accomplishment of all the hard work done before. I hope to do well and make people still believing in me happy. I hope we'll have fun together.
Q: Last year, after the Giro's presentation, you said there weren't many chances for sprinters. And what about the 2002 route?
A: Well, seems next year we'll have more chances than in 2001. I hope I'll manage to make the most of them.
Q: Does Ivan Quaranta remain the most dangerous rival?
A: Ivan is definitely a top class rider. I hope I'll have the strength to match him for some more time.
Q: But I guess your first task is to set up a new "blue train", able to help you in sprints, even if it's true that Saeco's "red
train," was not working that well in the last period ...
A: I think there are good riders inside my new team. Of course we'll have to create new mechanisms, and this could take a bit of time, so that
something could not work that well at the beginning. But the riders are good, especially from an athletic point of view, and I have a lot of experience, so I think we'll be able to acheive better results than I did in recent years.
In another interview he said, "Perhaps the rest days and the transfers could be harmful to anyone's
condition. As for my
"category," sprinters will have many a chance in this Giro. But the same is for climbers. It's true that no historical ascents are included, but riders will have to make efforts to get to the finish in the mountain stages anyway. And much will depend
upon the riders' behaviour rather than the course
Q: The 2002 looks like being less difficult than in the previous years?
Does it mean you could think about the GC ?
A: The Giro is less difficult for me ... but so is for other riders too !!
And I think the usual riders will be eventually fighting for the overall win. And don't forget the presence of three Time Trials that certainly do not help me. Even if I'm not that young anymore, I don't feel I'll be able to compete with very best GC threats.
Bettini: I like this course. I'm not sure I'll take part in the Giro, though. Pantani said there are no very
tough stages, but he's never satisfied. It's a very demanding course for us "average
Luca: I'll take the Giro as a way to prepare for other events. I won't be aiming for the GC. That's the goal of my captain Gilberto Simoni instead. As for me, next year I'll aim for classics and one-day races.
Nardello: The Italian champion said, "I think it's as
difficult as the 2001 Giro was. Then it will be up to the riders to make the race harder or easier. It's a Giro for everyone. Riders will have to pay particular attention to the four beginning statges, which looks easy on the paper.
"But actually they are demanding stages. I think it's very likely that, after opting for the Tour in the past, in 2002 I'll finally take part in the
Magni: (Former pro of the Coppi-Bartali age, and 2-time Giro winner):
"I think it's a good and well-balanced course. Then it will be
up to the riders, not the organizers to make it spectacular."
Conti: (Journalist of the Italian "Tuttosport" newspaper):
"The 2002 Giro is definitely not for climbers only. In spite of the presence of a
'legendary' ascent (Bondone), there are no
'historical' major climbs. But the parcours could provide emotions since the beginning, especially in stage two, finishing at Ans, on the hills above Liege."
(?)(Veteran Dutch Journalist): A Dutch as the winner of the Giro starting in the Netherlands? Well, I hope so. I hope it could be the right time for a Dutch, I'm thinking about Boogerd in particular, to win a race they have never won so far.
Lampre-Daikin: According to reports from "Gazzetta dello
Sport," riders and managers of Saronni's were looking particularly happy after the Giro prsentation. Were they thinking to route is good for Rumsas? Or is the Casero's "telenovela" finally coming to an end ?