Angelo Furlan Interview: Italian sprinter still hungry at 34
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Saturday, October 08, 2011

Angelo Furlan Interview: Italian sprinter still hungry at 34

by Ed Hood at 5:28 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Interviews
 
States going from Italian racing scene to Danish gives a new career motivation

Angelo FurlanItalian Angelo Furlan is perhaps best remembered as the Lampre rider who finished a close second to Oscar Freire in the 2010 Paris–Tours. However, despite the quality of that result, he couldn’t get a contract for 2011.

Michael Rasmussen and Christina Watches came to the rescue, with the Danes having the last laugh - the fast man from Arzignano notched up seven wins for the fledgling Continental team.

Looking back to the early days, Furlan rode stagiaire for Alessio in 2000 before riding four seasons as a full pro with the squadra; in 2001 he took a stage in the Tour of Poland and the following year he nabbed two stages in the Vuelta; beating Zabel and Petacchi in the process.

In 2003 he rode all three Grand Tours and in his last year with Alessio, won the Coppa Bernocchi.

His 2005 and 2006 seasons with the Domina and Selle Italia teams respectively were lean but a move to Credit Agricole rejuvenated him and in 2007 he won stages in the Etoile de Besseges and Circuit de la Sarthe.

In 2008 he again triumphed at Besseges and scored stage wins in the Volta Santarem in Portugal and Tour of Poland. It was then back to Italy and Lampre for 2009 with stage wins in the Dauphine and Poland.

Despite a third in the early season big money OBC Singapore criterium and second at Tours, there was ‘no room at the inn’ for Furlan with Lampre in 2011. Rasmussen signed Furlan and he has rewarded Christina Watches with wins at Aalborg, Koge and Herning in Denmark; the GP EOS in Tallinn, Estonia and three stages of the Knoz Srbiju in Serbia.

Furlan’s season is now finished but he has already begun to think about his first race of 2012 – the Tour of San Luis in Argentina next January. Although he’s 34 years of age, he’s still hungry and wants to clock up more wins.

VeloNation caught up with him recently to hear what he had to say about his decade in the pro peloton.

VeloNation: You’ve had 11 seasons as a full pro; what are the biggest changes you’ve seen?

Angelo Furlan:: I rode stagiaire for Alessio in 2000 but was full pro from 2001 – the speed hasn’t changed; I suffered in my first year and I still suffer!

The speeds are consistently high now, a big part of the reason for that is that there are no riders with the personality to control the peloton.

When I started, Cipollini would say; ‘this morning we ride slowly,’ and we started slow!

It’s not like that now; every race is full gas from the start.

And the young pros do not have so much respect for the senior riders – at Lampre, Adriano Malori was a young rider who listened and had respect for the older riders; but many don’t.

It’s the head that makes the difference in pro racing, all pros have very strong legs – the difference is in the head. You have to listen, learn the secrets that make the difference.

When I was a young rider, I was almost scared of the older pros – it’s not like that now.

VN: Your English is very good, Angelo…

AF: I learned it from listening to Metallica songs – but you have to be careful because there are a lot of bad words in there!

VN: Christina Watches is a Danish team but you still live in Italy?

AF: It’s part of being a professional – the travel; I live around one hour’s drive from Bergamo airport from where there is a regular flight to Billund in Denmark.

It’s best for me to live here, the training roads are good and there are plenty of other riders to train with.

VN: What do you think of the Danish race scene?

AF: The world of cycling is growing and Denmark is part of that – and good for me; it’s flat and I always suffer like a dog in the hills!

The Tour of Denmark is a good race – the organisers want it to grow and to achieve more. It’s very different from Italy where everything stays the same – but the world is changing.

Angelo FurlanVN: You have a mentor’s role in Christina but the Danish temperament is very different to the Italian one…

AF: I am happy in my role – and the young riders respect me at Christina.

The big thing I try to teach them is that above all, you must not give up.

There is a big difference between the Italian and Danish ways, but I am from the North of Italy and I understand them.

The north of Italy is very different from the south – I love Italy and all of the people, but it can be like two different countries.

When I was at Credit Agricole it was good for me, I rode with English, New Zealand and Norwegian riders – they all liked to work, not talk about it; and you gained their respect by winning.

This has helped me with being in a Danish team, now.

I also like the way Danes do business, their agreements are true, if they give their word then that’s it.

In Italy you can make an agreement with one person but then they must talk to other people and its three months before you get the decision.

VN: You burst on the scene as a young pro with two stage wins in the Vuelta back in 2002…

AF: I was good in my first year – winning.

But in my second year I won those two Vuelta stages where I beat Zabel and Petacchi.

If I’d been born anywhere else I’d have been selected for the Zolder Worlds; but in Italy there are so many strong riders that I was overlooked.

In my third year I had a bad crash and was in hospital, but the team put me under pressure to get back to racing – which I did, too early.

I had a lot of problems as a result of that – but that’s how it is in Italy, there’s always pressure to race, pressure to win.

If you don’t get a good result for a week or two, then management is screaming at you. There was a lot of pressure at Domina and at Selle Italia they were always screaming at you.

When I went to Credit Agricole, it wasn’t like that and I began to win, again. The atmosphere here at Christina is good and I’ve scored seven wins.

There are so many strong riders in Italy, but not enough teams…so there’s a lot of pressure.

VN: Credit Agricole – was it not an unusual team for an Italian to join?

AF: It was a dream, well organised with a lot of foreign riders – it was good to speak English and French and hear points of view from all around the world.

Roger Legeay was a good man to work for and I was very disappointed when the team folded.

Those were the happiest years of my career and when I go into management the way that team was run will be my model.

VN: Last year, you were second at Paris-Tours but there was no contract renewal with Lampre…

AF: I cannot believe what happened, they made a mistake with me – I was a strong rider, but ISD became a sponsor and they wanted nine Ukrainian guys to join the team and that meant nine of us had to go.

I had a lot of trouble to find a team - the problem is that as time goes by people begin to think, ‘why hasn’t he been signed?’

Foreign teams think that if you’re an Italian then you might not be ‘clean’ – but when Lampre had their problems with that, you saw that I wasn’t on the list!

But Michael believed in me – I think that after eleven seasons with no problems, you can believe in me.

VN: Which performance during your career gives you most satisfaction?

AF: It’s hard to say because in every race I suffer like a dog!

But my second stage win in the Vuelta was a good one; the last 200 metres at full gas is the easy part, that’s my job - it’s the positioning that’s the problem.

And second in Paris-Tours was a good ride, I kicked at 300 to go into a face wind and Freire only passed me in the last five metres.

VN: How has the shift from Pro Tour to Continental racing been?

AF: It’s a lot different, people think that it will be easier in the Continental races, but it’s not. There are no tactics; the race could be over inside 15 kilometres.

At the start of the season it took me a while to figure it out – you have to be at the front all the time and go with all the moves. There are a lot of strong guys but no teams strong enough to control a race – you have to pay attention all the time.

VN: When do you start your winter training?

AF: I rode my last race a few weeks ago but already I’ve started to ride the mountain bike - I started in BMX – I like to get off road for a few weeks and take some risks on the descents!

I have the Tour of San Luis in January so I want to be in shape for that.

VN: What does the future hold?

AF: I’ve signed with Christina for another two years – Michael Rasmussen believes in me, it’s a pleasure to be on the team.

I’ve passed my exams for being a mountain bike coach and will soon be sitting my final exams to be a Director Sportiv – that’s what I want to do in the future.

VN: Regrets?

AF: I should have moved to a foreign team at an earlier stage in my career – but I did my best, I suffered like crazy in every race.

I say to the young riders; “win or lose, it doesn’t matter, as long as you give 100% then you don’t need to have regrets.”

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