October 6/03 11:32 am - Interviews with Italians
Posted by Editor on 10/6/03
Interviews with the Italians
This report made possible by Human Kinetics Publishers.
After a slow start, fans tonight had a chance to meet with some of the top Italian pros at a special dinner held in Hamilton. The Italian team's plane arrived late (as did their ground transportation), but once the riders had a chance to eat they circulated with the fans present, signing autographs and posing for pictures. Watch for photos very shortly.
The Italians are some of the biggest favourites for next Sunday's men's race - not just because of the presence of Paolo Bettini (who mathematically won the World Cup yesterday by finishing 11th at Paris-Tours, despite there still being one race remaining in the schedule), but because they have proven that they can set aside trade team differences to ride as a team.
We had a chance to talk to few of the riders.
"My condition is really good, and Paris-Tours shut the door for the World Cup, so that is a big relief. I haven't seen this course (Hamilton) first hand, but I have seen the video Franco (Ballerini, the team manager) shot when he was here, and the technical details are well known. I feel very comfortable about this course, because it is close to perfect for my style. Of course, the championship is always open, and any one can do well on the day in question. I think that Oscar Freire (Spain) will push the pace hard, but I feel confident.
This year, with the difficult course, it is even more important than last year that the team works together. Franco Ballerini had to make some tough decisions on the team (composition), but I think the right choices were made - the team atmosphere is very strong."
Franco Ballerini (Team Manager)
"The Spanish team will be extremely strong and dangerous, with Freire their leader. Also, (Yaroslav) Popovych (Ukraine), (George) Hincapie (USA), Micahel Boogerd (Netherlands) and Oscar Camenzind (Switzerland) are all dangerous riders on this course." Ballerini also stated that Bettini is the designated rider: "The whole team is working for Bettini."
Dario Frigo - Individual Time Trial
"This course is for a very strong rider. (Uwe) Peschel of Germany and (Igor) Gonzalez de Galdeano (Spain) are both strong, but David Millar (Great Britain) is the strongest. I think for first place it will be Millar, and then it will be possible for me to fight for second or third position. On this course it is important to be in 100% condition, so after the Vuelta (Espana) I focussed completely on training for the time trial."