He may have ended the day in a lowly 26th place, but given the journey he had travelled to get there, Marco Pinotti (Italy) hailed his performance at Wednesday’s UCI World Championships time trial as one of the finest accomplishments of his career.
A heavy fall in the final week of the Giro d’Italia in May left Pinotti with a fractured pelvis and a long, lonely road to recovery over the summer as he sought to iron out the muscle imbalances triggered by the lay-off. Although he was back on the bike in early August, Pinotti was only able to resume full training at the beginning of the month.
After making a tentative return to competitive action in Canada at the GP de Québec, Pinotti answered the call from Italian national coach Paolo Bettini and lined out in the Copenhagen time trial in spite of severely limited preparation.
“I would see this as one of the most beautiful things I have done in my career,” Pinotti said after rolling to a halt shortly beyond the finish line. “To recover in such a short space of time after what I went through was one of my finest accomplishments.
“It was a test, and I was curious myself to see how my body would react after a lengthy stop. I didn’t want to force things during the recovery before that because the fracture I had was quite serious, so I only had six weeks to prepare to ride 40km at world level.”
Pinotti explained that he was persuaded to ride by Bettini, who had initially suggested that Italy would send just one rider, Adriano Malori (Lampre-ISD), to compete in the discipline.
“I had doubts myself,” Pinotti admitted. “It was Paolo who encouraged me and I have to thank him, because in the end I’m coming out of this with high morale. I didn’t have time to do the necessary base work, but I came here and I didn’t finish among the last riders, so for me that’s already a bit of a result.
“Maybe it could have gone a little better but I think that no-one else in my condition would have ridden the race.”
Martin’s win no surprise
As Pinotti spoke to journalists on Hans Christian Andersen Boulevard, in the background the race speaker was breathlessly describing the final kilometres of Tony Martin’s winning ride to the gathered multitudes. Even before Martin thundered towards the finish line, Pinotti paid tribute to the world champion-elect, a teammate at Highroad for the past four seasons.
“It’s not a surprise,” said Pinotti, who will switch to BMC next season. “This year Tony has won every time trial in which he has competed, apart the one in Romandie. He’s won all the time trials he wanted to win when he was riding at the same condition as the others.”
Even though Pinotti finished the race almost five minutes down on Martin, he was able to take heart from his performances against the German prior to his injury. With the London 2012 Olympics on the horizon next year, Pinotti believes that at full fitness, he could be in contention for a medal.
“This year I’ve done three time trials against Tony and I’ve generally lost between one second and 1.1 seconds per kilometre,” Pinotti pointed out. “So, if I’d had the time to prepare the Worlds in normal conditions, I would have come in about a minute down, so this gives me a point of departure from which to work for next year.
“Tony and Cancellara will still be the favourites, of course, but if I succeed in getting back to what I was before the accident, then the podium wouldn’t be out of reach.”