Danilo Hondo interview: staying motivated on track and road
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Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Danilo Hondo interview: staying motivated on track and road

by Ed Hood at 6:41 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Track
 
German sprinter still determined at 36 years of age

Danilo HondoThe expression 'seasoned professional' is an understatement in the case of 36 year-old German, Danilo Hondo.

It was way back in 1991 when the man from Guben took two silver medals in the world junior championships, specifically in the team pursuit and points races.

Another junior team pursuit silver followed in '92, and by '94 Hondo was a member of the gold medal winning Worlds senior squad with Guido Fulst, Andreas Bach and Jens Lehmann.

The German squad took bronze in the Worlds in '96 but the Olympic medals didn't follow.

The next season Hondo was pro with Agro-Adler, where he also spent '98, but 13 wins during that season meant the big time was calling. From '99 to 2003 he wore the pink of Telekom. In '04 he transferred to the 'other German super team' Gerolsteiner, where he rode that season and for part of 2005.

He was suspended for testing positive for carphedon, but eventually won an appeal and returned to racing in early 2006 with the Lamonta team. Stints with Tinkoff and Diquigiovanni followed before a move to PSK Whirlpool for 2009.

This season saw him back in the 'big league' with Lampre.

Hondo has won stages in races as diverse as the Peace Race and Tour of Langkawi as well as stages in the Tours of Poland, Denmark, Sweden, Catalonia, Murcia, Sardinia and Italy.

The Three Days of De Panne, Four Days of Dunkirk and Regio Tour have also been happy hunting grounds for the 2002 German champion.

Despite his advancing years it would be wrong to say Hondo is 'on the slide' - he took two wins this year as well as top 15 placings in the GP E3, Scheldeprijs, Tour of Flanders and Paris-Tours; not to mention being instrumental in 'Ale Jet' Petacchi's Grand Tour revival as the Italian's final lead out man.

Whilst Hondo lay on the massage table at the recent six days of Gent - where he and countryman Robert Bartko finished on the podium - he took time to talk to VeloNation about his career and his plans for 2011.

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Danilo HondoVeloNation: Who were your idols when you were a young rider, Danilo?

Danilo Hondo: I've been asked that a lot but there was never a special rider who I looked up to, because there were so many good riders, all interesting and different in their own way. But of course, growing up in East Germany, it was impossible not to be aware of riders like Ludwig, Raab and Ampler.

VN: You were originally a track rider, so was being a road man always your ambition?

DH: My first world championship selections as a junior were for the track…that was the Federation's decision.
But in training for the track we had a good road programme, and for me the road was always interesting. We won the world team pursuit championship in 1994; the plan was for us to win the team pursuit at the Atlanta Olympics in 1996, but that didn't work out and I went 100% to the road, after that.

VN: You've had a long career….

DH: I turned pro for Adler in 1997 and I've just signed for another two years for Lampre.

VN: What do you consider your best season?

DH: That's difficult - all seasons are tough in their own way. The end of 2004 was excellent but there's no 'special' season - this year was good, I was happy with Roubaix and was top ten in Flanders. I rode three Grand Tours and did a lot of good work for Petacchi; and came close to a Giro stage win myself.

VN: You have 83 road wins - which one are you most proud of?

DH: Any win in a Grand Tour is special, so it would have to be my two stage wins in the 2001 Giro.

VN: In the 2005 Milan-San Remo, you were second to Petacchi. Is going so close a big regret?

DH: No, he was the fastest! Freire has won it three times because he has the capability to be very good for a particular day. That was never my characteristic…I like to ride a lot of races and am always looking for a result.

VN: Do you train specifically for sprints?

DH: Not in training but you do sprint training during races when you join an attack or close a gap. The sixes for me are good training also.

VN: Do you rehearse with the Lampre 'train?'

DH: For sure, you practice riding in the line at high speed, and discuss what's required - you must study the riders around you from the other teams, you must stay calm and above all you must believe in the team's capabilities.

At the training camps you discuss your wins and losses and what's best for us. And you talk about HTC, Garmin, QuickStep and how to beat them.

VN: You were a decade with German teams, then went to Italy - tell us about the difference in mentality.

DH: In Germany it's straight, clear and 100% organised; in Italy it's different. It's friendlier, they are really emotionally involved with cycling - they do a lot for their riders. I live near Milano, so I really enjoy it.

VN: Gent is your first six of the winter…

Danilo HondoDH: I haven't done that many sixes (Gent was his seventh in all) and this is a hard one to start the winter with. I don't feel perfect but I don't feel so bad - the hardest thing is find the leg speed; but I'm improving day by day.

VN: Will Robert Bartko and you become a regular team?

DH: We will ride Zurich but I have to talk to Lampre management. Firstly we have to look at Petacchi's programme and work around that.

VN: Are you thinking of 'doing a Van Bon' and extending your career in the sixes?

DH: I hope that everyone can see I'm good at the sixes, flexible. Maybe over the next two years I will talk to Lampre and see if it is possible to incorporate more six days in my programme. If I can ride a six day programme until I am 40, why not?

VN: You were top 10 at Flanders…will that be a target for 2011?

DH: I was close to the podium and learned a lot from the experience - I had a good Roubaix too but punctured at the wrong time. De Panne is a also a race I like - in these races the team will be for me and for Petacchi in the rest.

VN: Do you have any unfinished business in cycling?

DH: I'm very interested in travel, to see the world whilst racing is something I enjoy. I like the concept of globalisation; I'd like to ride the UCI races in Canada, I've never been there...and the new race in Beijing is also something I would like to ride.

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