Going the distance

"Last Sunday I used my strength to the fullest to help Alessandro [Ballan]," commented Franzoi...

An interview with Enrico Franzoi, April 14, 2007

24 year-old Enrico Franzoi did his lion's share in last Sunday's Ronde van Vlaanderen to help Lampre-Fondital teammate Alessandro Ballan achieve victory. The Italian cyclo-cross champion will form part of the eight-man team roster for Sunday's Paris-Roubaix. Gregor Brown of Cyclingnews spoke with Franzoi as he prepared for the day's training ride.

"Last Sunday I used my strength to the fullest to help Alessandro [Ballan]," commented Franzoi Saturday morning in Compiègne. He had spent over 200 kilometres off the front in the Ronde as part of a three-man escape. The move enabled his team captain to 'relax' as the other teams worked to control the time limit of the escape.

Franzoi explained that the day went well for him, even if he was not yet accustomed to riding such distances. "I spent 220 kilometres in the escape," he noted. "I felt good, even if in the finale I finished in the second group. I was happy with how my race went."

The race came all together before the Muur. It was on that penultimate climb that Franzoi's teammates took over; first Daniele Bennati, marking the move of Tom Boonen, then Ballan, who attacked for the win.

"This winter I worked on my distance, the kilometres, by going on long rides. At times I would go out on rides of 270 kilometres." -Franzoi is eager to find out if he, too, will one day be a contender in races such as Paris Roubaix.

"My legs were over by the Muur," explained Franzoi with pride in his accomplishment. "We were hoping to make it over the climb before the group but it was fine all the same. I am really happy for Ballan; it is a really good feeling to see your work pay off. I felt like I worked well for my captain."

Almost one week later the scene has changed. The team is has moved its base from Kortrijk, Belgium, to northern France. They are in Compiègne, the start town of the 105th Paris-Roubaix. Franzoi hopes that here he can once again prove his ability over the distance of a Monument and maybe even see to a Ballan victory.

"This will be the third time in Roubaix," continued the three-time Italian cyclo-cross champ. "I will work for Alessandro and try to be as close to him for as long as possible. Hopefully we can get him up there, safe, and in a good move."

The weather is hot in France, near 26°C, but Franzoi expects that the race will still unfold in its usual manner. "I think the weather is similar to last year and won't be too much different. There should still be a group that comes about after the Forest of Arenberg, one that can go on to fight for the victory."

The Italian is building up his experience, learning from the talented Ballan and teammates like Paolo Fornaciari and Fabio Baldato, and wants to return one day to vie for the win in the Hell of the North.

"Maybe in the future years I will have my own chances here in Roubaix. For now I am here, learning from other riders like Alessandro, and gaining experience. We have a captain that can win and it is right that I am here to work for his chances.

"This winter I worked on my distance, the kilometres, by going on long rides. At times I would go out on rides of 270 kilometres." He concluded, "It is obvious that now I have some difficulties with the distance but I hope that in the future, after I become more accustomed to these races, I can fight for victory."

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