By Jean-François Quénet in Scarperia
The current maglia rosa Marco Pinotti is known for being an engineer before taking up cycling professionally, but he also acts as a journalist. For the past two years, he's been a regular columnist for L'Eco di Bergamo, the local paper from his region from which he got a phone call on Friday evening: "When is your piece coming? We'll put it on the front page!"
Pinotti managed to write it, although "a bit late" as he apologized. "It was about myself and my emotions, but today I'll write about my teammates cause they're great." One of the people he wants to include in his comments is Bob Stapleton, T-Mobile's general manager who arrived at the Tour of Italy "just in time for watching the last 40 kilometres of stage 6." But it was definitely worth him coming from the US for to watch one of his favourite riders in pink.
"Pinotti was introduced to me by our common friend Max Testa (Motorola's former Italian doctor and coach, ed.)," Stapleton explained. "He told me this guy would fit very well with our philosophy because he believes in our anti-doping program. "We search the same goals. He's exactly the kind of rider we'd like to see in the future. He shares our views on mental training and sport psychology. He's very open to new ideas. I'm convinced that there are lots of opportunities in cycling for improvement without drugs."
Having the lead in the Tour of Italy is obviously something that makes the new T-Mobile believe in what they're doing. "We'll try to hold the jersey as long as we can," Stapleton added. "I wish we had a stronger team for helping Marco, but Michael Barry was sick before the start, Adam Hansen broke his hand, etc. ... The six riders left are committed to keep the jersey."
The team ended up eating in a self-service cafeteria after Pinotti took the lead because there was no restaurant in their hotel. "We ate really well and it was great fun," Pinotti said. At the start in Spoleto, he received a lot of congratulations from the other riders. Pinotti might be unknown by the general public, but he's highly respected in the bunch.
"I thanked Danilo Di Luca for letting our breakaway go, and he said it was a question of common interest," said Pinotti. "Gilberto (Simoni, his former teammate at Lampre) was also very happy for me. Everyone reminded me my mistake at the Tour of Romandie. Then it was a much quieter stage for me than the day before. Quick Step wanted to make the sprinters tired, exactly the same way they did in stage 2, that day Bettini came 2nd, today 3rd."
Pinotti could keep the pink jersey until stage 12, which arrives in Briançon after climbing the Izoard in France. "It's easier to say when we sit here at the press conference, but we never know," he said.