Friday, August 19, 2011

Exclusive Interview - Mauro Gianetti (Manager, Team GEOX)

Bringing one of the strongest teams in many years to the Vuelta, Team GEOX is certainly the team to watch during the next three weeks. To get a better picture of what we can expect, I took a chat with team manager Mauro Gianetti about his view on this year’s race.

Mauro, first of all, how do you feel about your team’s chances in the Vuelta?
Well the team is good. Everybody is ready. We are coming to the Vuelta with Denis [Menchov, edt.] to win the race. He has been working hard and reached a good level so everything is good. We also have Carlos [Sastre, edt.] ready to be a big player. I think it’s very important to have two so experienced riders in the team. It's not very often you get to have two riders with Grand Tours wins on the same team for a race.

Let’s take a look at the 9 riders and what their roles are…
Menchov is our leader. He is ready to win - no doubt about that. He is a great, great rider and has already won the Vuelta twice. He has a very high level and together with Purito and Antón he is one of the rider’s who can win the race. Sastre is coming in a good condition as well. The Vuelta is very important to him so we expect him to be one of the key riders. The same goes for Cobo. He has been having a difficult time, but now is he back again with great motivation. He has class and his job is to work for the team in the hard moments uphill and help Denis. He is a very good rider for our team. Blanco is another very important rider for the team. He can help in any aspect of the race. He is ready to use his experience and big class to help the team on both the flat parts and in the moutains. Same goes for Ardila and Kozonchuk. Their main job is to work for the team. Young Brändle is in the race to learn. He has great potential it will be good for him to stay with Denis and Carlos for as long as possible. He is a man for the future! De la Fuente is a good climber and it’s his job to stay with our leaders. He is very important in the first part of the climbs. Last we have Duarte. We hope he can surprise us. It took him a very long time to get back after his knee injury in the Giro, so we have to wait and see.

All the bookmakers have Team GEOX set as the big, big favorite for the team classification and looking at the riders you easily see why…
That’s true. And it’s very good for the morale as well. It means the riders know that we have a great team and that can help on the mentality. We are firstly here to win the race, but the team classification could be a goal later on as well.

What about the opening team time trial?
Honestly I don’t like this discipline so much. Cycling is an individual sport and with the team time trials a good rider can lose a race just because his team isn’t among the best ones. But since this one is only 14 km, there won’t be very big differences. So it’s okay, it’s a good show.

Looking at the rest of the course, what do you think about this year’s route? The long time trial must be good for Menchov’s chances in the GC?
Sure. The time trial is very important, if you can take 1½ min on your rivals it’s important. But every day is different. This year there are so many mountains and uphill finishes, so riders like Antón and Purito still have a good chance of winning the race compared to last year, where Purito lost it in the time trial.

Who is your own personal favorite for the overall victory?
Nibali. He showed last year that he is capable of winning the race so he must be the big favorite.

Last question. Carlos Sastre ends his contract with the team after this season. Will this be his last Vuelta?
Well, we don’t know yet. We will see how the race goes and then Carlos will have to make a decision...

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