By Jean-François Quénet in Genova
The young riders of this year's Giro d'Italia are very polite, so much so that they even let the oldest rider take first position on general classification! Even though the 38 year-old is the most experienced of them all, having raced professionally for 15 years, Andrea Noè (Liquigas), was very emotional when he received the pink jersey. It's the second time Noè has donned the maglia rosa, after taking it for a single day in 1998, when he was riding for ASICS at the service of Michele Bartoli, who he delivered the precious jersey to just 24 hours later. "The pink jersey is something you aim at since the day you begin racing," Noè commented.
This time around he will be able to enjoy it as tomorrow's stage is a flat route to Pinerolo, which is unlikely to see a change in standings before riders hit the Alps. "My wife and my daughter will be at the start, it will be great," he said. "Unfortunately, as an old man I've suffered some gastric problems today and I haven't been able to do my normal job for Danilo Di Luca," he explained. "But Pellizotti has done my part and I only had to hang on, that's how I got the jersey. I didn't look for it. My team-mates actually wanted me to get it more than I wanted it!"
Despite enjoying his second time in the famed jersey Noè made it clear that he was still at the Giro with a specific task to perform, and that's not to win. "After tomorrow, you will see the pink jersey back at his normal job for Di Luca," he commented. "When I went in a breakaway, it was for covering him, not for becoming the leader myself. I do the Giro for Di Luca. He's in a great shape. I hope he'll keep it for another ten days."
"Last year I rode half of the Giro with two broken ribs and I didn't say anything to anyone," added Noè, who is nicknamed 'brontolo' (curmudgeon) because he always complains. "It's right I never smile, I'm never happy, but that's how I reach the perfection in my job, after my cycling career, I won't complain anymore."
There's a big gap between Noè and the new generation of cyclists, as he could be the father of the youngest rider in the Giro - Ivan Rovniy (Tinkoff) is only 19. When Mario Cipollini retired two years ago, also riding for the same team as Noè, he admitted that he didn't even know the names of his youngest team-mates. "In the bunch, I'd call them 'Liquigas'," Cipollini testified. At the time he realised it was time to call it a career. Noè said about the same thing after taking the maglia rosa: "I have to look on their helmet or on the frame of their bike to get to know their name," he said.