Marco Pinotti Interview: Will target Giro d'Italia and Worlds in 2010
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Friday, January 01, 2010

Pinotti Interview: Will target Giro and Worlds in 2010

by VeloNation Press at 9:09 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Interviews
 

2009 was a year to remember for Marco Pinotti who, at 33 years of age, had the most consistent season of his career. He took a series of strong results, culminating in a fine fifth place in the world time trial championship in Mendrisio. It was the best performance at the worlds for the likeable Italian, and makes the quadruple national champion one to watch later this year in Geelong.

A turning point of sorts came in August 2008, when he took his first ever pro stage race victory at the Tour of Ireland. More wins followed in 2009; a solo stage victory at the Vuelta a Pais Vasco plus team time trial victories in the Tour of Romandie and the Giro d’Italia. Pinotti also showed a good run of form in stage races, finishing sixth in the Sachsen Tour, fifth in the Tour of Ireland and third in the Tour of Missouri.

Life since the end of the season has been very different, with a new addition to the family disrupting nights but brightening the days. He’s delighted to be a father and it gives him a new motivation heading into 2010 and what will be his fourth year with the Columbia HTC setup.

Pinotti spoke with VeloNation in the run-up to New Year’s Eve, reflecting on the season just finished and looking ahead to his goals on the horizon.

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VeloNation: How have things been going for you since the end of the season?

Marco Pinotti: Everything is good. I became a father 40 days ago, and so I am enjoying time with my baby boy. It is my first child and I am really excited. Everything is new, and it is really nice to be at home…okay, that means sometimes I have train in the cold, but this gives me an extra motivation.

I started back in mid-November, and then I went on a training camp with Team Columbia. After that I returned home to Italy. It was snowing and cold during Christmas week, but the day after Christmas I started training again on the road. Everything is okay now.

VN: How does your condition compare to other years?

MP: I think it is at a similar level, hopefully a little bit better because of my experience…I was able to pay attention to some details, like diet, more specific training. But I don’t need to start my season at 100 percent – like last year, it will be focussed on the Giro. The goal is to be in form around the Vuelta a Pais Vasco and keep the form through the months of May and June.

So I don’t need to start the first part of the season really strongly. I will start in Majorca, doing a couple of days there, then I will probably fly to Oman and do the new race. I won’t do the Tour of Qatar – that is more for sprinters, but Oman has a short time trial and more hills. It will be a better preparation race for me.

VN: Looking back at 2009, what are the highlights of this season?

MP: The stage win in the Vuelta a Pais Vasco, and obviously the two time trial wins – one in Romandie, and one in the Giro [team time trials].

VN: Was it your best season to date?

MP: I don’t know…I had a really good level from April until the end of the season. After the Giro, I won the national championship and I was able to keep my form through the summer, without racing. I placed in the top six in every stage race I did, from the Sachsen Tour to Ireland and Missouri. Then I was fifth in the world championship, which is now maybe fourth place [if Tom Zirbel is disqualified].

I was able to keep my form all that time. Okay, last year I won Ireland, but this year I kept in good shape for a long time. I had the same good form this year in Ireland but the final day in Cork was more difficult to do something – in 2008 we had [Michael] Barry in contention too, so it was a bit different, we had two cards to play. Also, this year the final stage was shortened so we didn’t have too many options.

VN: Do you think winning the Tour of Ireland in 2008 changed your mentality - giving you more confidence, thus helping you perform this season?

MP: Well, I always think and hope that I am a good rider for the stage races, and finally I won a stage race. My confidence has been building since 2007, when I wore the pink jersey in the Giro. Then 2008 I was third in Romandie. I believe if I focus really well, I can do well in the GC of stage races. Ireland continued this on.

This year, if you don’t count Paris-Nice, I always did well in the stage races. Also, the third overall in Missouri was good. If there is a stage race with a time trial, I can be in the top five or the top ten. I like that, it shows consistency…riders can have a good day, but every day you need to be in front.

With more experience, things have changed a little bit for me. Riding like this is something that I have been looking for in my career.

VN: You won a road race stage in the Vuelta a Pais Vasco. That must have been a nice feeling?

MP: Yes, of course…when you win a time trial, you don’t get to put your arm in the air! Winning that way, and doing it in the bad weather, was a nice victory. It also gave me confidence that I could perform well in those conditions.

For example, in San Sebastian, there was bad weather in the end and I was able to be in the top ten because I had that confidence. Every year I had more pieces to the puzzle of being a complete rider.

VN: You are 33 now – do you feel that you are continuing to progress and gain confidence, experience and knowledge of yourself?

MP: Yes, I think that my career has been one of never-ending small improvements. Each year I look to improve all the details – training, resting, to the way I go into the races, to the way I stay in the team. Every year I try to improve a little bit – it is not a huge improvements, but every small detail gives you the benefit of improving a little bit every year.

In cycling, if you have passion and if you find the motivation, you can be strong until the late thirties.

VN: You are known as a clean rider. Do you think the biological passport has made the situation better for riders like yourself?

MP: The biological passport is something good…every rider has a benefit at stake from this. The whole cycling environment can benefit, and sport in general, because we set the bar higher for other sports and act like a model for them. We developed this against all the critics, and it helped to show that this is possible. Every rider is getting a benefit from this.

It gives hope to the young riders, because they can go into our sport with the expectation of being at the start of the race without any cheaters. It is a tool, it is not a panacea, not something that solves all the problems, but it is really useful.

VN: The Columbia team has changed, with a number of riders like Edvald Boasson Hagen and Thomas Lovkvist moving elsewhere. Will that change things for you, as regards your duties and your opportunities in the team?

MP: For me, the team didn’t really change that much. Since I am one of the oldest guys on the team and one of those who have been there longer than some others, maybe I am more of a model in the team for the young riders. The responsibility is for me to be as professional as I can, as I hope that the young riders look at me. When I turned pro, I was looking at the oldest rider in the team to learn something.

From another point of view, this [the departure of some key riders] means I can have more freedom in certain races. It doesn’t change things that much, though, as in this team, you can have your chance. I could take my chances last year, and even more this year.

VN: Could you be in line to do the Tour de France, or is the Giro the stage race you will ride?

MP: I would like to do it but, given the result of the 2009 world championship, I think I will focus on the world championship in Australia. After the Giro, I will do the Tour of Switzerland or the national championship, and I will see if I will be selected for the [worlds] time trial. That is why that I think a break in July will give me the chance to be a bit more fresh at the end of the season.

We will see – it is not scheduled yet. Now the thought is of the Giro as the target for the first part of the season, and the world championship for the second.

VN: You had your highest-ever finish in the worlds this year…do you think a medal is possible in 2010?

MP: I think so, I think so. Okay, in the end it could be a tenth place or a fifteenth place – two years ago in Varese, I also hoped to be close to the medals [he was 13th]. To win a medal you need good luck and a good day and everything.

I think this year I was really close, and I think I could have done things a little bit better in my preparation. That gives me the confidence that I can be close to a medal, and hopefully get one.

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