Diego Ulissi will soon be back to races and he explained his ideas about the past period and the hopes for the future to the reporter Pier Augusto Stagi, who interviewed the Italian cyclist for the website www.tuttobiciweb.it.
We publish an extract of the interview.
Diego, tomorrow, March the 28th, your ban will end.
«Thanks God, it seems unreal to me. Believe me, I’m worn out at the end of this period. I lived difficult moments, but now I only want to think to recover the time I lost. I could not stand anymore to train».
What do you mean?
«I miss the races so much. I can’t wait to put a number on my back and to taste again the savour of the competition”.
Nine months of ban sentenced caused by an adverse test for salbutamol (a bronchodilator) dated on the 21st of May at the end of the 11th stage of Giro d’Italia.
“What could I add to what I already said? The Swiss judges acknowledged that I ‘acted negligently without having any intentions of improving the athletic performance’. Despite I was in good faith, the consequences had great cost.
When will you be back to races?
“In Volta al Pais Vasco, starting on the 6th of April. After the Spanish race, I’ll take part in Amstel, Fleche Wallone and Liege.
It’s a soft start, isn’t it?
“Yes, it’s an interesting program.
After a lot of holidays, I can’t wait to be back to battle in the bunch. I’m aware I’ll have to face huge efforts in Pais Vasco considering that I’ll short of the race pace, but I’ll grit my teeth and I know I’ll soon find the suitable shape”.
You’ve just come back from Tuscany, haven’t you?
“Yes, each time I train ten days on Lugano roads, I spend two or three days in Tuscany with Michele Bartoli, who helps me in to train behind the motor. When you’re not taking part in races, the only way to reach the suitable level of agility is to train in behind the motor”.
Which is your main target?
“It is to achieve good performances in Giro d’Italia. I’d like to win one stage at least. At Giro my troubles began and from there I’d like to start again my run-up”.
Will you fight for the overall classification?
“First of all, I’d like to respect the role the team will assign me, but I think my characteristics are more suitable for the one day races and for stages hunting in the Great Tours”.
Have you already performed recognitions on the Pink Race’s stage?
“Yes, I had plenty of time…I’m joking, but I did perform recognition on the 3rd and the 4th stage courses, the Sestri one and the La Spezia one, with the sport director Righi, and I also pedaled on the course of the Abetone stage and soon I’ll be, with the sport director Marzano, on the course of the Valdobbiadene time trial. It’s a good way to make the disappointment vanish”.
In photo, Ulissi with the team mate Cattaneo in the final part of the 3rd stage of Giro, the Rapallo-Sestri Levante.
You already won three stages in Giro d’Italia: Tirano stage in 2011 edition and Viggiano and Montecopiolo stages in the past year.
“It would be great to add another one”
How can you describe the past nine months?
“Very hard. I’m lucky to have my wife Arianna with me and my daughter Lia too. Moreover, how I can not mention the support I received from my parents, Donatella and Mauro, and my parents-in-law, Monica and Fabio? They acted as a top team! Now I’d like to give them some fun, in order to reward them for having sustained me”.
How did you spend your time when you were not training?
“I like to stay at home with my wife and my daughter. I read a pair of books and I really liked the one of Giuseppe Rossi, the striker from Fiorentina, who faced a lot on injuries”.
What did you learn from this painful experience?
“It’s important to be patient: believe me, for me it was not so simple”.
What is the race of your dream?
“The Liege-Bastogne-Liege. I spent a lot of time talking about this dream with Michele Bartoli, who succeeded in winning this race twice”.
Michele raked up victories in the Classics
“I aim to imitate him, or to obtain similar results at least. I took part in Liege-Bastogne-Liege four times and my best result was the 20th place I obtained two years ago. This year I’d like to do better, a place in the top ten would be a good result, but I don’t want to set the limits”.
There will be an expert sport director as Orlando Maini with you.
“You’re right, the feeling with Orlando is great. I’d said better that the feeling with the whole Team LAMPRE-MERIDA is perfect, I can work with important people, from Saronni to Copeland to all the other members of the staff.
I’ve been working with Maini since 2011, he’s an amazing man because he use his heart. In his opinion, all the cyclists are planets to be explored and understood. When he talks, the words came from the heart. I consider him as an additional value for the life of a rider.
I know he strongly believes in me and it would be great to give him soon new satisfactions, but I know now that it must be patient: first it will be necessary to be in a good shape, then it will be time to fight for the top results”.