Abraham Olano - The Giro and Beyond
L'Equipe spoke to Abraham Olano after his overall victory in the Tour
de Romandie about his season so far and prospects for the rest of the
year. "At the beginning of the season," Olano said, "I was too far
beind in my preparation and very overweight, so I didn't go well."
Over the winter, as world champion, he'd attended 70 receptions all
over Spain. "It was agreed [with trainer Dr] Ferrari that I'd try to
peak for the Giro d'Italia, my main objective for the season. I used
the Tour of the Basque Country and the Tour de Romandie for training.
But with Ferrari training isn't a matter of riding with the
'grupetto'. My goal in Romandie was to keep up with the best riders.
Morally, this win has been very good for me, though I don't attach too
much importance to it."
Triple Tour de Romandie winner Stephen Roche followed the race and had
no hesitation in making Olano his favourite for the Giro, which begins
Saturday (May 18) in Athens. Giancarlo Ferretti, the directeur sportif
of MG-Technogym and Giosue Zenoni, directeur-sportif of Team Polti
were also very impressed.
Olano, for whom this will be his first Giro ride, is more cautious. "I
don't even know what the style of riding is in the race, Frankly, I'm
worried. I've phoned my friend Tony Rominger [last year's winner but
not riding this year] several times to give me the lowdown. I shall be
counting heavily on [Gianluca] Bortolami to pilot me and help me
avoid making the stupid mistakes that a newcomer inevitably falls into
in the first week. If he can help me conserve my reserves ["keep some
juice"] for the final stages, I sincerely believe that final week,
with all those mountains, could be terrific."
Olano claims to have trained conscientiously, but to have avoided
making major sacrifices. "I've made much less preparation than I did
for the Vuelta a Espana last year [when he finished second to Laurent
Jalabert] when I went and stayed two weeks in the Pyrenees with my
wife Karmela. I really worked hard there -- one day I did seven cols
in the same day. It was madness. I haven't done as much for the Giro."
Olano's directeur-sportif Suarez Cuevas can't disguise a smile, when
Olano mentions not doing as much. "Olano? He's still a monster. Ask
him what he eats so he doesn't get fat -- compared with him top models
stuff their faces." (For four years, it's said, Olano has abstained
from his favourite dish -- red beans and hot chorizo -- that way he's
lost 16 kilos).
And Olano already knows some of the worst of the climbs the Giro can
throw at a rider. Recently in training he's climbed the Gavia,
Mortirolo, Pordoi and Marmolada. The person who designed the road up to the top
of the Mortirolo ought to be hanged. Ave Maria! There are at least five or
six kilometres which are more suited to alpine mountaineers than
For all these reasons, Olano personally prefers to go for Evgeni
Berzin and Francesco Casagrande as favourites. "Berzin becasue he's
already proved that he can win the Giro; Casagrande because he
disguises what he can do and he's the strongest of all of us in the
And what about after the Giro? "Everything will depend on how tired I
am after the Giro. But if everything goes well I'm going to the Tour
to help Tony [Rominger] win. After that... that'll be enough racing
for the season..."
But that means missing the Vuelta and the World Championships? "We'll
see how things go, but the ideal preparation for the World
Championships is the Vuelta. That would make three big Tours this
season -- and that's out of the question for me."