Interview: Pinotti will keep working towards Olympics despite rumours Nibali might be selected for TT
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Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Interview: Pinotti will keep working towards Olympics despite rumours Nibali might be selected for TT

by Shane Stokes at 5:01 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Interviews, Giro d'Italia, Olympics
Italian wants to prove he deserves a place; speaks of emotional Giro win plus Tour de France

Marco PinottiGiro d’Italia stage winner Marco Pinotti has said that he remains focussed on ensuring he is selected for the Olympic Games, thus not putting too much emphasis on media reports that Italian selector Paolo Bettini may have decided to pick Vincenzo Nibali rather than him to ride the time trial in London.

Pinotti has won the Italian national championships five times, and on Sunday dominated the final time trial in the Giro. He beat Welshman Geraint Thomas (Sky Procycling) by 39 seconds. The next-best Italian rider was Dario Cataldo (Omega Pharma Quick Step), a full one minute 25 seconds back. Nibali did not ride the race.

Pinotti has long seen the Olympic Games as one of his biggest targets of the season, structuring his training to be able to hit strong form in the Giro but also to maintain good condition until London.

Contacted by VeloNation, he played down suggestions by La Gazzetta dello Sport that the place may have already been decided.

“I have no idea about this…I saw this in the media,” the 36 year old said today. “I don’t want to comment on a rumour. I will just continue to work hard to ensure that I get selected. I know that I need a spot on the road race to be selected for the time trial.”

According to La Gazzetta, Nibali could be joined by Filippo Pozzato (Farnese Vini-Selle Italia), Elia Viviani (Liquigas-Cannondale), Luca Paolini (Katusha) and Matteo Trentin (Omega Pharma-QuickStep). It said that Pinotti would be a reserve, along with Daniel Oss (Liquigas-Cannondale) and Adriano Malori (Lampre-ISD).

However the Italian TT specialist is not panicking. “I am only thinking about being able to perform in the Olympic Games,” he said. “It is up to Bettini to select the team. If I was in the position of the coach, I would make this choice as late as possible.”

Until the final decision is made, he said he will work to prove he deserves a place.

Although he’s got the best track record of the current Italian riders against the clock, Pinotti recognises that Bettini could put more emphasis on the road race and that this could influence selections for the five man team. Current rules state that a quintet of riders must be selected, of which one of those will do the time trial.

“I think it looks that the road race is the priority. That’s understandable - on paper, we don’t have a time trialist who can guarantee a podium place,” he acknowledged. “I can do a good time trial, but I am not Cancellara, not Martin. With Wiggins and Evans, there will be a few riders who will be favourites for medals. So I think the national federation will put more on the road race.”

Pinotti is an experienced professional himself, though, and played a very good supporting role with the HTC Highroad squad and now with the BMC Racing Team. His strength against the clock means he is good at dragging a bunch along if required, and he is also seen as a selfless rider when required to help others.

Prior to a final announcement by Bettini, he’ll continue to work away. “Until the selection is made, I will do my duty to train and to try to get the spot in the Olympic Games,” he said. “If I am good for the road race and play a good supporting role for the leaders, I can then do the time trial. That’s what I’ll work towards.”

One year after crash, an emotional stage win in Giro:

Marco PinottiPrior to the start of the Giro d’Italia, Pinotti said that he wasn’t sure what to expect in terms of ambitions, but would like to place high in GC if possible.

As things turned out, that ambition proved to be too much this time round. “I tried to do something on the stage where I crashed,” he said, referring to his break on stage 15 to Pian dei Resinelli. “I fell but finished, and after that there was a rest day. But when I started again, I felt like I was not like before. The team got an osteopath to check me, and it took a couple of days for him to get me back in shape. At that point, the only chance was to do something in the final time trial.”

Pinotti did the same in 2008, making his Giro a success by winning the final TT. As he did four years ago, he backed off in order to make sure he was as fresh as possible for the race against the clock. “The goal was to save as much energy as possible,” he said of last week’s tactics. “You can see that in the results - in the last week, on the three mountain stages, I was at least 20 minutes down each day.

“Doing well in that time trial was really important. It was a goal for me, and particularly so after I couldn’t fight for GC. It was the last chance.”

Given that he exited the race last year in an ambulance, his femur broken as a result of a big crash two days before the end, he said that there were strong feelings this time round. Standing on the podium and taking the cheers and champagne of being the final stage winner was something which moved him.

“It definitely was emotional,” he confirmed. “Last year, I was disappointed not to be able to contest the last time trial. But I think this win showed that after three weeks of races, I am one of the top riders in the last time trial. It was a very good feeling to win.”

What’s next?

Marco PinottiPinotti has taken the tricolore as national time trial on five occasions; 2005, 2007, 2008, 2009 and 2010. It’s a remarkable run of results, and one he’d like to build upon. However his desire to have good form in July and August means that he’ll intentionally back off slightly; he hopes that he’ll still be able to challenge for gold.

“I am looking to go to the national championships all right, but it won’t be my main goal,” he revealed. “I will take it easy for a little bit as I want to be at my best one month later. I hope I will keep some form, though. If I am at 90 percent, I hope that it will be enough to win.”

At this point in time, Pinotti plans riding the championships but is unsure about the rest of his programme. The Olympic Games situation is unknown for now, and so too the Tour de France. His BMC Racing team-mate Cadel Evans will head to the race as the defending champion and Pinotti’s strength means that he could be a useful backup rider for the Australian there. However he’s already done a Grand Tour this year and believes that this could see the place go to another rider. If so, he’s fine with that.

“The team will wait until Switzerland [the Tour de Suisse] to decide. Personally, I am waiting a few days after the Giro to rest and then we’ll decide if I will do the Tour de Suisse or Austria.

“As regards the Tour, I will go of the team needs me. Right now, I am on the long list and there are nine riders ahead of me. If the team looks for someone outside that, I can do it, but I think it would only be if I can give the team some advantage. It is safe to say that there are many other riders for whom the Tour is a priority in their season. I have already done the Giro, so I think other riders have the right to be part of the team and ride the race. Anyway, we’ll see what the team wants.”

If all goes to plan for the BMC Racing Team, Cadel Evans will challenge once again and take a second Tour title. His season has been quite varied up until this point, with victory in Criterium International counterbalanced with quieter performances in Tirreno-Adriatico and the Tour de Romandie, two races he won last year.

The Australian believes that he will be in peak condition for the Tour. Pinotti said that he doesn’t know how his form is now, but notes that he responds well to hard work.

“I think he is going to race Dauphiné and then we will see how he is,” he said. “He has been training and done some reconnaissance. From what I know if him, he is really good normally without many days of racing, really good with training. We will see in time how he is going.”


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