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9th Telekom Malaysia Le Tour de Langkawi - 2.2
Malaysia, February 6-15, 2004
An interview with Luciano Pagliarini, February 7, 2004
"Harder competition but I want to win again"
Luciano Pagliarini made a huge impact on the Tour de Langkawi last year, becoming the first rider ever to win three stages in a row in this "sprinters' paradise" race. He also made himself famous because he was the first Brazilian to win an international bike race since Mauro Ribeiro in the 1991 Tour de France. The friendly and colourful Lampre rider is now back in Malaysia with strong ambitions again, despite a quiet year following his first appearance in the number one Asian event. Jean-Francois Quenet conducts this interview for Cyclingnews.
Cyclingnews.com: What's your feeling about being back in Malaysia?
Luciano Pagliarini: I feel great. Malaysia is a country that brings me luck. However, I'm unsure whether I can do as well as last year because I've had a problem with my knee before coming, but I'm definitely determined to be a winner again in this race.
CN: What happened to your knee?
LP: When I went back home to Londrina in South of Brazil in October, I didn't touch my bike for a month and when I started training again, I did it too strongly because I went with other Brazilian bike riders and the training was a bit of a challenge, they were happy to come out with me and they wanted to show me how good they were. Then my knee was inflamed and I had to stop, before going training again slowly after recovering. Thus I've begun my preparation a little bit delayed. But I feel good and I hope for great results here.
CN: Last year you said you had the advantage of a similar climate in Brazil and Malaysia. Are you on the same plan now?
LP: Well... I went for ten days to Italy before coming here and I experienced 0°C and two periods of jet lag between Brazil and Malaysia. Where I come from in the region of Parana in South of San Paolo, it's a bit less humid than here, it's actually an ideal location for a cyclist, hot with hills and lakes, it's really nice, I just wish I would have been able to profit a bit more from the area by riding more during the off-season.
CN: What have you done since you won the Clasica de Almeria in Spain last year just after le Tour de Langkawi?
LP: Hey...that's what everybody asks me. I kind of disappeared from the results. I've taken part in races that didn't really suit me. My goal was to do well in Milan-San Remo but I couldn't even ride it because of sinusitis and bronchitis. Even though I was sick I wanted to train more and the cold weather didn't help me to recover. As soon as I was in good shape and healthy I've had a problem with a tooth, then we were already at the half of the season. Then in July, there is the Tour de France or nothing, because Lampre wasn't welcome I couldn't repeat my first experience from 2002.
I managed two third places, in a bunch sprint of the Brixia Tour behind Ivan Quaranta and Daniele Bennati, and another one in the Tour of Portugal. That was also a very hard race. For the Vuelta, Lampre built a team around climbers, I did Paris-Brussels and Paris-Tours, but luck wasn't on my side from March to October. It was also my fault because I'm a rider who thinks too much, I'm very concerned and too preoccupied, too nervous as well because I want to do well. I've made some mistakes, now I know I won't repeat them, I'll go out with more clothes in bad weather.
CN: What do you think of the field of sprinters in this year's Tour de Langkawi?
LP: I can see there are more and more sprinters coming to this race. It'll be a harder competition this year with Ivan Quaranta, but he's not unbeatable, Graeme Brown, Enrico Degano, Gordon Fraser and Jans Koerts who have all won bunch sprints in Malaysia in the past. I'll try and win stage 1 and then we'll see. When I have a finishing line in front of me, I can't stop pedalling until I cross it.
CN: Your rivalry with Brown ended up in a post-sprint fight last year. Are you better friends now?
LP: I never had a problem with Brown, that stuff doesn't interest me. It was him who became nervous because of not winning. He calmed down when he got the opportunity to win himself. Already by the end of the Tour de Langkawi we were able to chat normally.
CN: Have you brought your national flag with you again?
LP: I always have it with me in case of winning. I also have a special jersey with the colours of Brazil because I'm proud of my country and I want to play my role in the improvement of cycling over there. I got an absolutely warm welcome when I got back home after last season because of my wins overseas. The people at the Brazilian cycling federation are my true friends. Because of that I took part in a race with 800 participants on the car racing circuit of Interlagos on January 11th, the TV broadcasted live and interviewed as the guest star for five minutes before the start.
CN: How is cycling improving in Brazil?
LP: Now we are two professionals instead of one since my great friend Murillo Fisher joined Domina Vacanze this year. It did very well for his first race at the Tour Down Under. He's a neo-pro but already a mature rider, aged 25. He lives only 3km away from me in Treviso where we are well looked after by the Pinarello family, my wife Julia works at the Pinarello shop.
There are also good cycling races organized in Brazil now, but since the country is only ranked 38th by the UCI, we'll have only one representative at the Olympic Games in Athens. It's my big goal for this year to be there. My other goal is to win as many races as possible. We will probably not ride the Tour de France again because there's no good relationship between the organisation and Lampre since the Rumsas affair, so I hope to ride the Tour of Italy and the Tour of Spain. I'm also busy these days with building my personal web site. It should be ready in two weeks: www.lucianopagliarini.com.