What a season Mauro is having. I first interviewed him back in December as part of my 25 riders to watch in 2014 list. He is doing us proud. He took a brilliant victory in GP Lugano, against Colbrelli and Ulissi. He has placed in the top 10 on many occasions and made the crucial selection in Milan-San Remo. Disaster struck, when he crashed in the last corner and he lost the chance to sprint for victory. I caught up with Mauro, before he started a hectic couple of weeks, with Coppi e Bartali, De Panne and Limburg.
What a start to the season! Did you dream of this?
My goal was to go very well from the start, so I was in California to train for a month away from my family during the period that included the Christmas holidays and New Year, I would say that I have succeeded.
Let us get straight to your win in GP Lugano. It must be an honour to win such a race? Previous winners include Capecchi, Basso, Nocentini and Bettini, to name a few. When Ulissi attacked on the final climb, did you think about going with him?
No, I knew it would be difficult to create a gap. I preferred to stay in the group and check that he didn’t get too much space, then I would have moved too, but it was not so.
You could hear the cheer you let out when you crossed the line. How did it feel?
When I crossed the line I felt only my cry ….
It was a liberation.
It was your first win since 2009, how much confidence did it give you?
Many years have passed and many things have happened, but I knew that I would come back to winning, my mentality has always been a winner, but I admit that when you are unable to do so you get many doubts … now I took them off of me!
You have been very consistent in 2014, finishing in the top 10 on 5 occasions(before Coppi e Bartali). You must be very pleased with your form?
We are satisfied, the percentage number of races / results is very high. I admit that I want to win another one soon … every race I try 100%.
What happened in Strade Bianche? You didn’t go as well as you would have liked.
Strade Bianche was not a lucky day at all, for many reasons. First the holes and then I was too far behind on Sante Marie, with the wind strong, the group was broken up into sections and for me the race was over.
Let’s talk about Milan-San Remo. What an incredible performance, to be with the lead group at the end, but then disaster struck, when you crashed. That must have been very frustrating?
The worst day of my sporting life … for me it was worth so much playing my cards in Classicissima … after a tough day, a stupid fall was devastating psychologically for me.
You now head to Coppi e Bartali. How difficult is it to change from 1 day races to stage races?
I would say that it is not too difficult if supported by a good physical condition. In short stage races I get along quite well.
Stage 2 looks to be the decisive stage, with the climb of Ulle di Monte Tiffi. Do you know the climb?
I do not know the climb but you can be sure that if the legs are good, I’ll definitely try to win the stage.
What type of result are you aiming for?
The aim is to win the stage, as far as I am concerned about the ranking of the TT … I have not had an opportunity to work as I wanted.
It will be very interesting to see Team Sky at this race. It should bring extra coverage?
Sky or no Sky, a win is always hard. I do not underestimate anyone.
Then it’s off to Belgium with De Panne. Are you excited about going back there?
Riding in Belgium for me, is always fantastic. I told them to absolutely put it in my program and I would like to repeat the placement in the top ten in the 2009 race and maybe win my first stage.
What are your goals for the next couple of races?
Hitting a success between Coppi and Bartali, De Panne and Limburg.
Mauro certainly had a big success in De Panne. On stage 1 he made the crucial front group and sprinted for victory. He went a touch too early and missed his chance to win. He again made the selection in stage 2, helping teammate Colli to finish 6th.A strong TT performance meant that Mauro took an excellent 7th place on GC. He now heads to the Volta Limburg Classic, where he has an excellent chance of victory. I look forward to many more successes in 2014.