An interview with Giuseppe Guerini, July 19, 2005
Giuseppe Guerini's victory in the 19th stage of the Tour de France was another one for the gregarios, the hard workers that are so essential to every team. After doing the job for his leader Jan Ullrich in the mountains, Guerini was given his own chance to get into the break today, and he took it by the horns. Cyclingnews' Hedwig Kröner reports from Le-Puy-en-Velay.
The final move which gave Giuseppe 'Beppe' Guerini (T-Mobile) his second stage win in the Tour de France, and an Italian's 250th victory at the Tour de France, was an expected one. In the breakaway, that still led by 2'20 minutes on the next group of chasers, everyone knew that the lean Italian climber would attack before the finish so as to not risk getting outsprinted by any of his three breakaway companions - namely Sandy Casar (Française des Jeux), Franco Pellizotti (Liquigas-Bianchi) and Oscar Pereiro (Phonak). And the plot worked out perfectly for the man from Bergamo (the same Italian region that brought Felice Gimondi to cycling): He attacked just before the famous flamme rouge, and the other three played poker just long enough for him to get a 10 second lead on the line.
"I've been trying to get into breakaways for some time now - today I finally succeeded," Guerini said after the stage. "During the race, I felt a little tired, but my legs were good. It was a great break. When we got to the last kilometres, I knew that Casar would beat me in the sprint, so I had to leave before the finale. Pereiro was there mainly for the General Classification, so I knew it was between Casar, Pellizotti and me. When I left, they looked at each other just a little bit too long!"
The Italian dedicated his win to his father, who passed away last month, and his son, who will be born in about two weeks time. After his first Tour victory in L'Alpe d'Huez in 1999, another win at the French stage race is special to him. "It's true that my victory in Alpe d'Huez is still more important, because it's a mythical place, there's something more about the place. But a win in the Tour is always special for a rider like me. And it was less dangerous than in L'Alpe!" he joked, reminding everyone that his first Tour de France stage win nearly went down with him as a spectator made him crash with only a few hundred meters to go.
The mountain specialist scored T-Mobile's second win at this Tour after Alexandre Vinokourov. Asked why he had chosen to ride for the German team in 1999, when he had just placed third twice in the Giro d'Italia (in 1997 and 1998) to become Jan Ullrich's personal domestique, he replied, "I wanted to go to the Tour. I grew up with the Giro, also as a rider, but I knew that in order to improve further, I had to go to the Tour. That's why I accepted to go to Telekom and work for Ullrich."
On another note, the T-Mobile rider also remembered Marco Pantani, whom he grew up with and who, tragically enough, died on Guerini's birthday, February 14. "We knew each other for a long time, ever since we started out as amateurs. We were the same age, and in 1998, I won at the Giro in front of Pantani, but that had happened before as amateurs... But he was truly a symbol for Italian cycling, and today is greatly missed. We do have other riders like Petacchi and Cunego now, but they just don't have this strength that he had."