Monday, February 6, 2012

Exclusive interview - Stefano Garzelli

Stefano Garzelli
Stefano Garzelli had planned to end his long glorious career after the Giro d’Italia this year, but since his team Acqua e Sapone didn’t get an invitation, Garzelli suddenly had to decide he if wanted to continue his career at all. I had a talk with the Italian veteran about the future and to clarify what happened with Bjarne Riis last summer.

Stefano, I'm very sorry to learn about the missing invitation to the Giro d'Italia. It must have been a big chock for you? 
Indeed. After what I managed to do last year in the race, I really didn’t expect this decision. I think I gave a lot to the Giro last year.

Do you find it disrespectful by the RCS not to invite you after all you have given the Giro? 
It’s beyond just lack of respect. I find it very hard to accept. I don’t understand why they have invited teams with less potential among their riders than we have. Beside myself we have two very talented young riders in Taborre and especially Betancur who would be our key rider for the GC. I would have liked to teach Betancur how to win a Giro but unfortunately that won’t happen now. 

Have you considered riding another season in order to be able do ride the Giro next year?
To be honest I won’t exclude it. I have already got an offer to continue one more year, but I will have to take my time and find out if I really want to keep on with the training and make all the sacrifices that go with it. If I can’t see the point in doing it, I will rather stop now because I will not continue riding my bike if I can’t compete with the best riders. 

I know you had planned to end your career after the Giro. How do you find the motivation to continue training without having the Giro to look forward to? 
Well, after I got the news [about not being invited to the Giro] my first thought was to stop my career. At my age it’s difficult to keep up the motivation and make sacrifices when the race that matters the most to you has been taking away. But after I had some time to think about it, I sat myself new goals starting with Tirreno-Adriatico and Milano-San Remo. I think this will be a good way to end my career as well.

Recently La Gazzetta dello Sport wrote that you would sign with Team Saxo Bank after Tirreno in order to ride the Giro. Is there any truth to that? 
I would have liked to, but unfortunately the regulations doesn’t allow it [Read here why not].

I know you were talking with Bjarne Riis last summer about a contract. Can you explain the reasons for not signing with Riis back then? 
Bjarne contacted me last year and we talked about it, but the problem was that I already had a contract with Acqua e Sapone for 2012. I talked with my team [Acqua e Sapone] about changing, but they made it clear to me that it would jeopardize their participation in the Giro and therefore I decided to not change. I could have insisted [on going to Saxo Bank] but because of our relationship I didn’t want to do it. 

So there is no possible way you will be able to ride the Giro d'Italia this year? 
In 2008 when we weren’t invited the decision was final, so I don’t have any hopes left now.

To end this interview I can tell that Stefano Garzelli just became father for the 4th time. He tells that for him 2012 is now already a success. “What more could I ask for than a lovely family and a good health”, he explains to me. Hopefully his newborn son Leonardo will help him getting through a difficult start to the season.

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