Sunday, June 10, 2012

Interview - Christa Rigozzi (Tour de Suisse promoter & former Miss Switzerland)

Christa Rigozzi. Former Miss Switzerland
and now Tour de Suisse promoter
Saturday the 9th of June Italian journalist (and a good friend of mine) Alberto Celani met up with Swiss beauty Christa Rigozzi to have a talk about cycling, marketing, being a national icon and of course the ongoing Tour de Suisse which Christa Rigozzi is promoting. Here is the introduction to the interview by Alberto Celani.

Today I've met Christa Rigozzi, Miss Switzerland 2006, together with Davide Calabresi (young photographer and industrial designer)  and I must say that any woman in the world of cycling should be proud of her. Christa Rigozzi represents women, her nation and cycling in the best way possible. I very much respect her for  the way she’s handling being a former Miss Swiss, the  love she has for her country, her open mind and her great way of promotion Swiss culture, tourism, sponsors and herself. I would like to thank Mikkel Condé for the opportunity he gave me and Davide to meet this great cycling personality.

Christa, first of all, how did a former Miss Swiss get into cycling?
I got into it when I was crowned Miss Swiss where I got a contract with Wurth and that partnership has been going on ever since. I like it a lot and I like the relationships we have enforced here.

Let’s start with a quick introduction. Who is Christa Rigozzi?
She's a spontaneous girl with a strong desire of discovering new things. She likes travelling and she has a great motivation.

You are a now a Swiss symbol. What does it mean to be Miss Switzerland nowadays?
Well, I was crowned Miss Switzerland in 2006 [Christa Rigozzi is still the most known Miss Switzerland] and I've understood the value of being a Miss in my country. Being Miss Switzerland makes you even more popular than politicians here! It also helped me to get the job I love and it gave me several opportunities in different fields like fashion, TV, radio, marketing and being representative of Wurth here at Tour de Suisse. Of course it helps being open minded and speaking all the Swiss languages (German, Italian & French).  When I became Miss Switzerland I had to drop out of university, but in 2008 I graduated in Law and Criminology studying at night while I was working and travelling by day.

Cycling and Marketing are entities very much connected these days, how can a model like you help sponsors to find a good leverage in the modern market?
I'm representing many companies and here at Tour de Swisse is like I'm representing all the Swiss people. I think we have to study hard marketing drivers in a scientific way in order to choose the right strategy. It's not just a "sponsorship" but a true partnership and I believe that all the firms I’m working with are making some pretty good campaigns. Probably it’s because we work together all year long and in many cases also for many years (Wurth contracted her back in 2006).

Let’s talk a little about territorial marketing. Switzerland is doing a great job in promoting tourism abroad and as national symbol yourself, what  do you think about the MySwitzerland campaign?
First of all I must say that Switzerland is not expensive! There are many special offers for families too and here we really have everything; lakes, wonderful mountains, historic places, nice cities etc etc. In the winter we have our ski areas and in the summer you can enjoy amazing tracks and roads for cycling and mountain biking. MySwitzerland ( does a great job to help hikers, riders and tourists plan their holidays here. I myself represent Canton Valais and you should really try Leukerbad. It’s an amazing place and appreciated by many people from all over Europe for its thermal facilities and landscapes. Tour de Suisse is also an opportunity to show to the world what we have here and to give a reason to come and visit us.

As you say, Tour de Suisse is a great opportunity to promote all this. But also a great opportunity to get more people to start riding their bike.
Exactly. Tour de Suisse has to be an occasion for families and young people to discover the pleasure of riding their bikes. Not only to dream about being like Fabian Cancellara but also because ‘riding your bike is wonderful’. We must promote this type of mobility and Tour de Suisse is a great opportunity to do so.

Christa Rigozzi. Here interviewed by Alberto Celani.
Let’s talk about Tour de Suisse now. For a rider’s point of view why should he decide to ride this bike race?
Because of our mountains, they are hard but also amazing. Because the people here here love cycling. Because the race is well organized and because the calendar puts the race in a great moment to prepare the second part of the season. It is a short race with all the difficulties you need to gain fitness for Tour de France. I saw a great Damino Cunego in mountain stages last year and maybe Tour de Suisse is the best race to fine tune your condition.

What is your best memory from the race?
I would say the ambient. It’s awesome driving your car on these amazing roads getting to the finish after being at the start to greet and introduce the riders at the sign in. I also love the fans and the special stamina you and the riders get from their support. It's really important having so many people supporting the race.

Do you think Tour de Suisse will ever be more than 'just' a warm-up race for the Tour?
I think it already is for many others than the big Tour-favorites. It’s a very hard race and I think it will be a very interesting race to watch again this year.

Who is your personal favorite for the overall win?
I would like to say Cancellara, but the race is very hard  and the mountains are not really in his favor. The rain will make them [the mountains] ever more difficult!

Talking about Cancellara. Being Swiss yourself, knowing how it is to be the pride of the nation, it must have hurt seeing Cancellara miss all the big spring classics due to his crash. Do you think it gave him extra motivation for his comeback?
Yes! I know him well and I think he'll be back better than before. He is tough his body has responded well to the recovery. The whole country love and support him. Let’s see what this race has got for him. 

Interview by Alberto Celani & Mikkel Condé
Photo by: Davide Calabresi

You can follow Christa Rigozzi on Twitter at @christarigozzi.

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