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10th Telekom Malaysia Tour de Langkawi - 2.HC

Malaysia, January 28-February 6, 2005

News feature, February 3, 2005

"All for Rujano" says Colombia-Selle Italia DS

By Anthony Tan in Genting Highlands, Malaysia

Colombia-Selle Italia DS Gianni Savio
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When Cyclingnews caught up with Colombia-Selle Italia's directtore sportivo Gianni Savio before the start of the fifth stage of the Tour de Langkawi in Kota Bharu, the Italo-cool Savio was more than willing to talk.

His new climbing weapon, Jose Rujano, had just finished third in the Bachok time trial the day before, an incredible performance for the flyweight Venezuelan, and certainly the surprise ride of the day, along with Barloworld's Ryan Cox, who finished second.

"Yes, I thought that he [Rujano] would make a good time trial, but no so good," Savio said. "It was a surprise also for me, because I've never seen him in a flat time trial. I saw him in the Vuelta Tachira, which was flat, but it had a finish with a hill, so it was a very, very good surprise."

Asked what led to a performance that saw him finish just 15 seconds behind chrono-man Nathan O'Neill (Navigators), who won the 20km TT in a time of 24 minutes and 42.76 seconds, Savio believes that Rujano is a "complete rider"; petite but super-strong, with an excellent aerodynamic position. "He is a rider who is one with the bike, one rider and bicycle... amalgama, as they say in Italian."

Savio dismissed that Rujano's new-found ability on the flat will have any detrimental effect on his climbing prowess; according to Savio, he is a climber, and will remain a climber, and exhibits similar qualities to that of Mexican mountain man Julio Perez Cuapio (Ceramica Panaria - Navigare).

So with the decisive stage to Genting less than 24 hours away, the question on many people's minds is whether Colombia Selle Italia can do what they did last year, where Freddy Gonzalez and Ruber Marin rode away from the rest in the final kilometres, and in doing so, took the race victory, including the teams classification. But this year, the team victory is not important, says Savio.

"All the riders on our team work only for Rujano. For me, my idea, my objective is not the overall classement for the team - so I will sacrifice riders like Marlon Perez to try and win the individual classement with Jose Rujano," he said.

Savio also believes this year's race is wide open, and names three distinct threats to Rujano standing on the highest step of the podium in Kuala Lumpur come Sunday.

"The race is open to Rujano, to riders of Barloworld, and Discovery Channel. Maybe also one outsider, but I think that is difficult to have one outsider; the champion of the Tour de Langkawi will be between these riders: Cox, [Tiaan] Kannemeyer, [Tom] Danielson, and maybe one or two others."

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