Giro d'Italia: Paolo Tiralongo puts week of freedom to good use with Stage 19 stage win
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Friday, May 27, 2011

Giro d'Italia: Paolo Tiralongo puts week of freedom to good use with Stage 19 stage win

by Bjorn Haake at 5:50 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Giro d'Italia
 
Trustful domestique gets into the limelight on the climb of Macugnaga

Paolo TiralongoPaolo Tiralongo of the Astana team won the 19th stage of the Giro d'Italia, using strong legs and the favor of his friend Alberto Contador. Contador escaped the main group, then pulled Tiralongo towards the arrival and let the Italian pass the finish line first.

Already during the race, Contador encouraged Tiralongo. "I had tried to go once, but they caught me again," Tiralongo said. "Then Alberto tapped me on the shoulder and told me it was the right moment to go."

Tiralongo slipped away a little more than five kilometers from the line and stayed solo until the final few hundred meters. "I knew something was happening behind but I wasn't quite sure what it was."

Contador's attack caused trouble, with the overall contenders desperately trying to hold his wheel. But they couldn't manage and the Spaniard was in sole pursuit of Tiralongo. "With 400 meters to go I saw Alberto and I knew a friend had arrived. He pulled for a while, and checked over his shoulder to see who was coming up behind."

Contador wanted Tiralongo to win and made sure the others would not catch the duo.  "In my career I have always pulled for others and today's victory is a win of a career. Now I go back to do my ordinary work."

There was already a good omen at the start. "This morning my Astana boss and Eddy Merckx came to me and told me that I will win today. So I really wanted to try and play my cards."

For once, Tiralongo was relieved from his regular duties. "The team also told me that this week I would be free and I could do whatever I feel like."

Tiralongo had studied the road book well. "I hadn't seen the ascent, but I knew the last six kilometers were pretty demanding," the Italian said. "I was so tired I wasn't able to see the finish - but the climb was beautiful."

Tiralongo has a long career of working hard for others. "The leaders in my 12-year career were [Michele] Bartoli, [Francesco] Casagrande, [Wladimir] Belli. Then I had three hard years, after an accident."

Once recovered, he went on to his regular duties. "I worked with Lampre for Cunego and then at Astana for Contador."

Tiralongo was asked if Contador could also win the Tour de France. "Alberto can win any stage race. He is not only strong physically, but in his mind, nobody can beat him."

Some of Contador's strength has transferred over to Tiralongo. "Last year I trained a month with him. He was able to stimulate me and I was able to arrive at a 110 percent."

The question remained why he didn't join his friend at the Saxo Bank team. "There were some negotiations, but I had an agreement and also a wonderful leader in Vinokourov and a great team in Astana. These are the people I work for now. In the future we will see."

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