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Giro d'Italia Cycling News for May 8, 2006

Edited by Jeff Jones, assisted by Susan Westemeyer

Pollack thinks he has "started well"

Pollack was second
Photo ©: Sirotti
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"I think I can say that I have started well in the Giro," says T-Mobile's Olaf Pollack, after his second-place finish in Sunday's second Giro stage. "I was very happy with my results, although of course I would liked to have done better and finished just a little bit further ahead."

He's not complaining, though. "I'm very content. The finale was quite hectic. With 3 km to go, Graeme Brown rode into a roundabout perhaps a bit recklessly, causing three riders to fall. That opened a gap, which I took advantage of."

Teammate Mick Rogers noted that "The morale in the team is sky high," what with "two top ten finishes in the prologue and now Olaf's second place." Directeur sportif Rudy Pevenage joined the chorus of praise, saying "Olaf used Andre's (Korff) good work to ride a good sprint, after we jumped into the sprint preparations the last 5 km. The team has fulfilled its obligations."

Rasmussen gives up his wheel

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Danish rider Michael Rasmussen (Rabobank) is not at the Giro to ride for the general classification. That was immediately apparent in Sunday's second stage, when his team captain Mauricio Ardila flatted close to the finish in Charleroi. Rasmussen gave his wheel to the Colombian, and finished 3'15 later in 196th place.

Armstrong in Belgium

Lance Armstrong will follow the Giro d'Italia in Belgium tomorrow, during the fourth stage between Wanze and Hotton. The American will have a seat in the Discovery Channel car alongside Johan Bruyneel. He will also travel to Italy with the team for a few days.

"Paolino has done a fantastic effort," said Armstrong of Savoldelli's opening TT ride. "He started really strong and held it to the finish. A prologue doesn't say much about the full duration of the Giro, but it really means a lot for the team's peace of mind."

Pérez gives Caisse d'Epargne another option

Francisco Pérez's sixth place in the opening time trial of the Giro d'Italia was described as a "nice surprise" by his Caisse d'Epargne-Illes Balears team. The 27 year-old Spaniard, who returned to competition in 2005 after an 18 month suspension for EPO use, is focused on doing well again.

"To tell you the truth, when we went to reconnoitre the course, I immediately understood that I had a good chance to do well, but to think that I would be able to realise such a time, similar to that of Ivan Gutiérrez and some other specialists, that was a jump! Anyway I am entirely satisfied with my performance."

Pérez said that he didn't prepare especially for the time trial. "Not for the time trial in particular, but I did it for the whole Giro. It is one of the most important aims of my season."

As to what he can achieve in this race, "We shall have to wait until the race really starts before being able to decide what to do and we specially will have to wait the first mountain stage in order to see how everybody's form looks like.

"I will for sure give it all to try to win a stage. With regard to the general classification, I think that the last ten days will be so difficult that to stay in the front will be far from being easy. But you never know, perhaps I will be in the top part of the ranking then and look for some new objective."

Pérez also commented on the Giro's start in Belgium. "To be in Belgium with a public and an environment very different from the one I guess we will find in Italy is very strange, and it is not easy to really concentrate on the race. It is difficult to imagine that you have started a three week long race. I personally think it is a good thing because the race will not seem as long as it usually does! Moreover the race presents an atypical configuration starting with four more or less flat stages, then immediately the first rest day and then the team time trial. After that we will have some more stages that are not really difficult before reaching the second rest day.

"But after that what a long week will be waiting for us. It is expected to be a terrible one and I am sure it will be! Anyway I think that this Giro will give us the impression that it is shorter than a normal traditional long stage race."

Rabon "very nervous" at opening the Giro

Frantisek Rabon
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You're 22 years old, in your first season with a Pro Tour team, get called up at the last minute to ride the Giro d'Italia which will be, of course, your very first Grand Tour, and then you find out that you are going to be the very first rider to set off in the Stage 1 time trial. How would you react?

"I was very nervous," said T-Mobile's Frantisek Rabon on www.t-mobile-team.com. "So many cameras and so much attention was focused on me at that moment." His teammates added to the nerves: "Jan and Mick Rogers had been joking with me beforehand that I just needed to stay upright on the bike in order to ride into the virtual maglia rosa - for a minute, anyway." He finished 153rd, with a time of exactly 9 minutes.

The Czech rider only learned on Tuesday that he would be riding the Giro, and was at home recovering from a busy spring schedule, including the Circuit de la Sarthe, Niedersachsen and Rheinland-Pfalz, when the call came. He's doing his best to find out what to expect from these three weeks.

"He has been asking a lot of questions, wondering what it's like to ride a race as long and as hard as the Giro," says teammate Scott Davis. "I have been trying to answer his questions, but he will see for himself." The youngest on the Giro team is sharing a room with the oldest on the Giro team, Serguei Gonchar, who is 35, and who is also helping the youngster. Rabon notes, "He's been on the Giro podium and he's a time trial specialist. His advice helped settle my nerves before the prologue."

Pino Cerami: A Belgian-Italian celebrates the Giro

Pino Cerami
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Pino Cerami is perhaps the best known Belgian-adopted Italian cyclist, moving to Belgium as a youngster and achieving success late in his career, with victories in Paris-Roubaix and Flèche Wallonne aged 38. He even has a race named after him: The GP Pino Cerami, which was ridden on April 6 this year. Now 84, Cerami was interviewed by Walter Wauters for sportwereld.be as the Giro d'Italia passed by his home in Wallonia.

Cerami's parents fled the poverty of Sicily for the Walloon steel industry. His father died when he was 21, putting the pressure on him to support his five member family. "I went to work in the steelworks, just like my father," he related. "I had been trained as a car mechanic. But in a garage I would have had to do an apprenticeship first, and that paid less. In the steelworks I could earn more. I had to do that, because I was the sole breadwinner of a family with four children."

Pino was a good cyclist too, and turned professional in 1947, aged 26. But he still kept his job in the steelworks. "It was the only way we could get through the winter," he said. "I worked from November to February. Sometimes I was able to ride the Brussels six-day and than I didn't have to go back to the steelworks. I got 20,000 Belgian francs for riding the six. That was a lot less than the real trackies got, and I had to pay my expenses and soigneur from it, but it was still serious money. For comparison: in the steelworks I earned 5100 francs a month. And my prize money for the Flèche Wallonne in 1960 came to 6000 francs."

Cerami had to wait until he was 38 before he won a really big race, and in 1960 he managed to win both Paris-Roubaix and Flèche Wallonne. Why did it take so long? "Don't forget that I didn't turn pro until my 26th birthday. And most of all: I rode for the money. I had to support a family. If you won, you got your prize money from the federation. But you might have to wait one or two months for it. Abroad, it could be six months. For us that meant not eating. But if you gave someone a push or led the sprint out for them, then you'd get 500 or 1000 francs in your hand straight away. If my father had lived, I wouldn't have needed to do that. Then I'd have won races earlier in my career."

When he was 41, he even won a stage of the Tour de France, but that year (1963) was his last year as a pro. "I was still able to get three good wins that year. I was fit. I had had a bad time all through the winter. I stayed in Belgium to train and the weather was horrible that year. So I only got into shape late on. I was still second in Liege-Bastogne-Liege and sixth in the Flèche Wallonne. With a bit of luck I'd have won that as well. The hard winter had actually made me decide to retire. Training in the shitty weather, lonely stuff, because I was riding with blokes who were young enough to have been my son."

The Giro passed almost by his doorstep yesterday. "Mostly I will just be happy when it's all over. At 2 pm there's a ceremony in my honour here in the village. But at 2.45 I have to be with RTBF commentator Rodrigo Beenkens at the finish. The mayor has provided a car with a chauffeur but it still looks impossible to me. And I already had to be in two places at once yesterday. But sure, I'm delighted that the Giro is coming here, but it does stress me out a bit now and then."

Translation courtesy of Roger Hughes

Fantasy Giro game prize list confirmed!

We are pleased to confirm a full prize list for this year's Fantasy Giro game here at Cyclingnews. Thanks to the continued support from the industry, we have some great prizes lined for this season and we hope you'll enjoy this year's Giro competition. It's not too late to join in the fun at this year's Fantasy Giro game at Cyclingnews. You can join until stage 6 begins (12th May) and there is no disadvantage in joining after the Tour has begun. You have until May 12th to fine tune your teams for the Giro.

Grand Prize - Bianchi bike painted in Liquigas colours with Campagnolo groupset: The Grand Prize in the 2006 Giro d'Italia Fantasy Game will be a brand-new Bianchi bicycle from the legendary Italian firm of Treviglio. The bike is fitted with a Campagnolo Mirage groupset and painted in the same colours as Liquigas, the ProTour team of Danilo Di Luca. A complete description and specifications on the Bianchi will be announced soon.

Runners-up prizes

Maxxis Courchevels
Photo ©: Maxxis
(Click for larger image)
HED Stinger wheels
Photo ©: HED
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Hed Stinger wheels: Hed are offering a pair of Stinger wheels! The Stinger 50 is pure breed all carbon road racing wheelset that retails for USD $1090 and weighs in at 1400 grams.

10 pairs of Maxxis Courchevel tyres: Maxxis are providing 10 sets of their Courchevel Tyres for this year's Giro. The Courchevel were reinvented this year, from the rubber to the casing. Triple Compound Technology offers long wear life, great traction, and better transition from compound to compound. KevlarR belt technology provides puncture resistance.

3x complete sets of Santini wear: Santini are offering three complete sets of Santini ProTour replica team kit - the lucky winners can choose from any of the four ProTour teams using Santini clothing.

3x Giro Atmos Helmets: Win the helmet that graces the heads of some of the best riders and teams in this year's Tour. You can win the same Giro Atmos Discovery Team Issue helmet as worn by Lance Armstrong. We are pleased to confirm Giro's continued support of our Fantasy games. They are providing three helmets in total in team Discovery, Rabobank, and Fassa Bortolo colours. Worn by the best they make a great addition to the line up.

3x Speedplay's Zero pedals: Speedplay are continuing to support the Fantasy games with three more sets of their Zero pedals - the same style of pedal used by ProTour teams such as Team CSC and Phonak. The stainless steel model is on offer and it will provide years of faithful service. It allows you to choose either a fixed position or up to 15 degrees of float. Zero pedals maintain the traditional feel of a fixed system while incorporating all the well-known advantages of Speedplay X Pedal Systems.

3x fi'zi:k limited edition saddles: fi'zi:k are also continuing their support of this year's games with three of high-erformance road racing saddles. You'll have the choice from the fi'zi:k range, such as the Arione, Aliante or (appropriately) the Pave model. Or, you could choose from its limited edition, team replica saddles, including the new 'Di Luca Killer' and 'Cunego Piccolo Principe' models.

Play for FREE in the Giro 2006 game

Remember you can play for free for the first 5 stages! Try the game out and see how best to play. It's easy to play the Tour games - all you need to do is pick your dream team of 15 from the riders racing in this year's Giro start list. Then each day pick 9 riders to race for your fantasy team from these 15. You'll need a good combination of climbers, sprinters and general classification riders. For more details go to rules section of the site for more info. It's a great way to follow the Giro 2006.

To register your teams for the game go to http://fantasy.cyclingnews.com/

Good luck!

The Fantasy Cyclingnews Team

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