Tony Gallopin (AG2R Citroën) has had two difficult last seasons, punctuated in particular by several injuries including a broken wrist that occurred after a fall in the Tour of Italy last year. The Giro, Gallopin will find him again this Saturday, and he approaches the race with confidence, hoping that all these problems are behind him. “It’s going very well, I hope to be in great shape. Anyway I feel good, quite confident. It’s been a long time since I said things like that, so it’s on the right track”, he explained to Cyclism’Actu.
Honestly, I’m not taking the lead, I haven’t even studied the course properly yet. I just know that there is a stopwatch tomorrow (Saturday), a stopwatch on the last day, that there is Zoncolan and that my birthday on May 24 is very, very hard. So there you go, I don’t take too much trouble. I did what was necessary to get in good shape here, it is true that there was not too much success on the Giro even if I was not far from a stage victory. two years ago, but each time I have had health problems after falls. So there, I hope it will be a good Tour of Italy.
You won a stage on the Tour de France, one on the Vuelta, so the goal is to win one on the Giro?
It’s a dream that I have had for quite a while. Now we have to be realistic and keep our feet on the ground. I have been lacking results for a long time, I had a lot of small problems. It’s part of the sport, but I keep the confidence, I worked hard. If I am able to make places and be in the game, it is because I am able to win a stage.
It was not always easy, there were difficult times. But anyway, whether we are sporty or not, after a while there is a questioning. There were the falls, but it wasn’t just that. The older you get, the more serious you have to be because cycling has become so professional that you pay it cash when you put the smallest things aside. Now, I am really confident, for two months I have done the maximum. But it’s clear that you always have to get up and always question yourself.
For years, the Giro has never been a race that attracted me. Until two or three years ago, for me it was the Tour de France and nothing else. But now the Tour attracts me a lot less, even though I know it’s still the biggest race in the world and it’s every runner’s dream. Honestly, I wasn’t enjoying the Tour anymore, so I decided to do something else. And now, the Tour of Italy came, and I had fun, I’m having fun. Here, we are a good bunch of friends, we get along well, and since I arrived I’m really happy to be there. It’s really important.
Does that mean that we are unlikely to see you again one day on the Tour de France?
Yes. The big French races like the Tour, Paris-Nice or the Dauphiné, I have done them a lot and I have lived great moments on them. But at the present time … I’m not saying that I won’t come back because you can always change your mind, but already sportingly I’m not sure I have my place, and in the environment these are not races that make me really want to.
Of course, it would be nice to go get it, but it is hard, really hard, even if normally I can do pretty well on mountain stages. At the Tour des Alpes, I was pleasantly surprised because I felt that things were going well. I know my limits in the mountains, but we know how it goes in the third week of a Grand Tour, it plays more on the freshness, and by taking a breakaway there is always a possibility. And the fact that the finish is not at the top but at the bottom is rather a good thing.
I am more of a big brother than a road captain. This is the first time that I’m going to be the oldest of the team on a Grand Tour, we have a fairly young team, but in terms of the state of mind, I’m having a blast. Physically I sometimes feel like I’ve aged a little bit, but mentally I’m a kid and I’m really happy when I’m on a team like that. I’m getting spoofed a little bit now, but I’m taking it really well. Frankly that’s cool.
With experience, we know that there can be bad times, but there are also things against which we cannot fight: a fracture, an illness … Bad days, we know that there are has it on a Grand Tour, it’s part of the sport, and it is not a concern to know how to manage these bad days. On the other hand, getting sick, or breaking my wrist like that happened to me last year, these are things that we cannot fight against. Today, there is even the Covid, the team can end up “on the ground” if a runner is positive.
It changes a lot of things, for the good and the bad. The good thing is, there is a lot less to deal with, but there are still those tests that are not enjoyable. Yesterday I sneezed twice in the room during the team presentation, and there thirty people turned around with big eyes. It’s quite stressful. And all the tests, I’m already at about thirty since the start of the season, even more last year, it’s something that is not pleasant and that brings a little bit of concern.
Do you have a few stages in your sights on this Giro, or you really haven’t watched the course?
Honestly, I really haven’t watched. I’ve done it too much in the past, putting pressure on myself on certain stages, and these are the kinds of stages where we miss out. Now I tell myself that every day is an opportunity. Of course, I’ll watch before I start, but there’s no point in fussing over it. I take the days as they come.
We can take stock in three weeks. I think there is still some way to go, but anyway I’m confident and really looking forward, not to proving things on the bike, but to proving things to myself. I want to have fun.
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