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HomeCyclingItalian Star Roberto Visentini - PEZClusive!

Italian Star Roberto Visentini – PEZClusive!

Ex-Rider Interview: Roberto Visentini was a prime rider, an aesthetic rider and so they say a playboy and he was a hero in Italy with an enormous palmarès. However many within the English talking world know him from the Roche Giro of ’87. Ed Hood had an extended discuss to Roberto about his life, on and off the bike and ‘that’ Giro d’Italia.


The 80’s noticed some fairly cool dudes within the peloton, within the UK we had Malcolm Elliot, Belgium had Fons De Wolf, Switzerland had Serge Demierre however Italy had maybe the best of all of them – Roberto Visentini.

Time trial photograph because of Phil O’Connor

Large hair, movie star beauty, the person was born to put on the maglia rosa. He gained the pink race in 1986, however in 1987 while clad within the coolest jersey there’s, his workforce mate Stephen Roche – who had been in pink till the Stage 13 time trial the place Visentini rode a superb chrono to beat specialists, Rominger, Piasecki and Bernard to grab the lead again – went up the highway not as soon as however twice to take the jersey again from an enraged Visentini. Due to the nice places of work of Roberto and PEZ’s mutual buddy, Lucio Belli we carry you an unique interview with Senor Visentini – and in case you’re a Roche fan, pour your self a stiff Jameson’s and put together to be outraged. . .

World champ

arundel bike t-wrench banner

PEZ: You gained the inaugural World Junior Highway Race Champion in 1975 Roberto, your recollections of that day and did it change your life?
Roberto Visentini:
No, I can safely say that it didn’t change my life; however definitely I used to be very glad to have gained, maybe particularly as a result of it was the primary version of the Junior Worlds. I keep in mind that it was a tough circuit – half uphill and half downhill, I used to be in good kind and had already gained the Italian championship in Montecatini Terme. I acquired clear within the final kilometre and arrived alone, from some photographs plainly I gained in a dash however it’s not so. I’d like to recollect with affection my teammate, poor Alberto Massucco who got here third that day, he was man and an amazing rider, sadly he stopped racing and died in a nasty bike accident in 1979 at solely 21 years previous.


PEZ: You have been third within the Tour de l’Avenir in 1977 was this the efficiency which acquired you a professional contract?
The Tour de l’Avenir has all the time been a really laborious race, that yr my kind was good and I used to be completely guided by an amazing sports activities director and former bike owner to whom I’m nonetheless very grateful, Mino Denti, who taught me all the pieces about find out how to be a racing bike owner, he coached me since I used to be a child. Mino and Piero Serena, who all the time constructed my bikes, from junior to newbie – and whilst knowledgeable – have been all the time forward of their time. Mino as to methodologies of coaching and Piero as to geometry utilized to the bike, discovering the perfect the place on the machine for me.

Simply to provide an instance, after I gained the Italian time trial championship as an newbie, because the course had many corners Piero made particularly a body with the underside bracket larger to allow me to pedal by the corners. They thought concerning the ‘particulars,’ few know that Mino was to turn into the Inoxpran DS however there was some delay and after a wait of some months he determined to open a motorcycle store close to to his biking garments manufacturing facility. With Mino within the workforce automobile maybe issues would have turned out otherwise in sure races. . .

However again to the Tour de l’Avenir – I gave my greatest, that’s all there’s to it however there have been two stronger riders forward of me – Eddy Schepers and Johan Van Der Velde. Nonetheless, it was not that outcome that which acquired me the contract, I had already had contacts within the professional world – specifically with Colnago.


PEZ: Inform us about your recollections of signing your first contract with Vibor?
I selected Vibor due to Colnago (we rode Colner bikes, which is an acronym for COLNago ERnesto) and due to the sturdy Brescian element within the workforce, it was a small workforce however I instantly felt at house.

PEZ: You had a terrific Giro debut in 1978, greatest younger rider – your recollections?
I used to be in good kind and had the everyday enthusiasm of the brand new skilled however I additionally needed to work for Panizza who was the workforce captain. I nonetheless managed to maintain the white jersey regardless of that; I might have performed higher within the rating however sadly I had a nasty bronchitis that nearly pressured me to desert the race.

Italian pursuit champion

PEZ: The workforce grew to become CBM Quick for ’79?
The CBM was truly solely the evolution of Vibor, new sponsors however completely unreliable,
I bear in mind a workforce camp with a 5 star resort, all of the comforts, however sadly shortly after that the cash was all gone! Regardless of all of the negatives with that workforce I wish to keep in mind that was the yr I gained the Italian particular person pursuit championships, beating even individuals like Moser, for me, who didn’t specialise on the monitor, it was an amazing outcome.

PEZ: San Giacomo in ’80.
CBM went bankrupt and I discovered myself a contract with San Giacomo (which might turn into the next yr Sammontana Benotto) the DS was the good Carlino Menicagli, an excellent particular person, very caring and delicate together with his riders. It was there that I wore the primary pink jersey, then on the Vuelta of Spain the primary amarillo jersey. Sadly nearly your complete workforce ended up outdoors of the time lower; solely Bertini and I have been left, I attempted to maintain the jersey however with simply two of us it was nearly unattainable.

With USA’s George Mount in San Giacomo

PEZ: Freddy Maertens was your workforce mate there.
Freddy, what a rider, what a champion with unusual energy. At the moment the primary ultralight Campagnolo pedals had come out, with alloy spindles and plates, Freddy broke them, the mechanic needed to match his bike with the pedals from the yr earlier than with metal spindles and plates. I bear in mind him fondly, an absolute champion, when he accelerated from a seated place he might simply trip you off his wheel, however throughout the workforce, regardless of being a champion he remained humble with everybody.


PEZ: The workforce grew to become Sammontana for ‘81/’82.
In the long run the workforce was primarily the identical, sadly Menicagli left (I feel he went to Selle San Marco?) and Waldemaro Bartolozzi arrived, the DS and a sponsor modified – Sammontana took the place of San Giacomo. That yr I gained the time trial of Monte Pora, I keep in mind that I took a break from the bike for about ten days earlier than that race, I needed to do properly as a result of it was near my house, I gained in entrance of Corti, my teammate. I appreciated the time trials, even uphill, and if I got here into one off from eight to 10 days of relaxation I all the time did properly, it was a function of mine. I might have additionally gained the Tour of Lombardy that yr. I used to be in good condition and I had good legs; I had requested for a 12 cog to be fitted to my machine within the morning however as an alternative the mechanic fitted a 13 prime sprocket. I by no means knew if it was an error perhaps after I wrote the memo or if it was simply an oversight however the truth is that I used to be below geared within the ultimate and I used to be caught within the final kilometre. I feel there’s video on You Tube of that ultimate…

1982 Giro di Lombardia

PEZ: Sixth within the Giro in ’81, was that if you began to imagine you may win it?
I all the time thought in my coronary heart that I might win a Giro, the Giro was my real love, it wasn’t that sixth place that made me realise it, I all the time believed in it. After all, you additionally want luck, the percorsos on the time didn’t assist.


PEZ: You gained the Trofeo Baracchi with Daniel Gisiger in ’82, beating Oosterbosch and Kuiper – a really sturdy duo.
That Baracchi was actually an amazing victory, with Gisiger we have been in sync, he was a good time trial rider and I can say that I used to be too, in fact the Baracchi was all the time a gruelling race however I keep in mind that day with pleasure!

Inoxpran in 1983

PEZ: Inoxpran for ’83, which grew to become Carrera, you have been there for six seasons.
Inoxpran was an amazing Bresciano workforce. I bear in mind the homeowners the brothers Prandelli (Inox Pran – Pran clearly stands for Prandelli and Inox as a result of they produced pots and pans) – with them I all the time had a frank and honest relationship they all the time stored their phrase. They have been actual entrepreneurs, gents in love with biking; then Carrera got here in as sponsors and slowly issues modified however it nonetheless remained sturdy to Brescian roots and that’s why I stayed.

Worlds ’80 Sallances, France – Johan De Muynck, Bernard Hinault and Roberto Visentini

PEZ: Second within the ’83 Giro, might you might have gained?
The Giro in ‘83 what can I say, that I might have gained it? Definitely however there have been too wholesome bonuses for the stage winners, I feel 30 seconds? Saronni (who is an efficient buddy of mine) was a phenomenon within the sprints and there have been few laborious climbs to have the ability to put him in problem – that’s the way it went and I can’t reproach myself for something. I used to be actually sturdy each uphill and within the time trial however it wasn’t sufficient.

Visentini stage win Giro’84

PEZ: The ’84 Giro, a stage win however ‘solely’ 18th on GC within the ‘Moser Giro.’
1984, what can I say that everybody doesn’t already know? I used to be in good condition however too many issues occurred in that race. I gained in Lerici a tough and really lengthy stage, 270 kilometres in pouring rain, I attacked on the descent and arrived alone then the remainder everybody is aware of. I needed to cease, the best way that race was performed wasn’t proper, all of us struggled with what was going; on Fignon was additionally very offended, as was Beat Breau concerning the pushes Moser was receiving with out penalty on the climbs, then there have been the accusations of him being paced by the workforce automobile. The Stelvio stage – which didn’t favour Moser’s traits was cancelled, ‘as a result of it was snow sure’ however photos clearly confirmed that the highway was satisfactory. Lastly there was the problem with the helicopter draft pushing him alongside within the ultimate time trial. It was all ‘polemica’ and I’ve by no means appreciated this stuff, I didn’t ‘saints in heaven’ taking care of me like some in that race and that’s why I used to be 18th. I needed to retire from that Giro after having seen and suffered from the conditions I discussed above. I finished and misplaced time then Battaglin satisfied me to re-start. I bear in mind Fignon, who was robbed by Moser in that race, very fondly, nice class even off the bike, a gentleman in addition to a champion.

’86 Giro podium

PEZ: The ’86 Giro – Victory!
After wanting it a lot lastly the Giro was mine and I used to be rewarded for all of the sacrifices I’ve all the time made in my profession. You see what it means to have a bit of luck? I began in nice form however with a not too long ago damaged scaphoid; I did the entire race with a bandage on my wrist. I keep in mind that if there was a crash was on the fitting I used to be on the left and vice versa – luck! However off target I used to be pedalling very properly; but when I used to be to fall, carrying that harm then all the pieces was over. It was a Giro that I raced on the assault as a result of the workforce time trial in Sicily didn’t go too properly for us and I discovered myself having to assault till I lastly placed on the jersey. Seeing who arrived behind me in that race I may be glad _ Saronni, Moser, Lemond. The Giro has all the time been my race, the one which I used to be fascinated by successful greater than another.

Victory in 1986

PEZ: 1987 and Drama. . .
Everybody all the time asks about that Giro – initially I wish to state clearly that I’ve by no means ever stated that; ‘in July I’ll be laying on a seaside someplace and that I gained’t assist Roche to win the Tour de France.’ That phrase was invented by Roche to have a silly alibi, the reason being easy and in addition straightforward to know. I wasn’t going to do the Tour that yr as a result of I used to be the captain on the Giro, I had gained the race the yr earlier than. That was the association, how might or not it’s in any other case? Clearly if I had crashed or if I had issues sufficient to retire on the Giro I might have gone to the Tour in assist of Roche. I used to be knowledgeable paid to trip in line with the dictates of the workforce. However I repeat that everybody within the workforce knew the settlement that I might not have gone to the Tour if I had gained the Giro.


The reality is that I used to be attacked in a cowardly style and betrayed by a teammate with the approval of each the sponsors – who had an curiosity in promoting denims within the Anglo-Saxon market – and the workforce supervisor Boifava who was fascinated by promoting his bikes in these elements – he already deliberate to open a motorcycle manufacturing facility [Carrera, ed.] which opened two years later so he needed to put together the bottom. [Roche won the Giro on a ‘Battaglin’ branded machine, ed.]. Folks on that workforce had the unsuitable job, they need to not have directed a workforce – their job ought to have been within the Vatican as bishops or cardinals. They have been incompetent, careerists, opportunists. After I gained the time trial in San Marino – which was maybe the perfect time trial of my profession – I went again to the resort and solely two individuals congratulated me, simply two. Why? As a result of everybody would have been happier if Roche gained, nobody believed that I might have overwhelmed him in that point trial and with such a margin, I put 2 minutes 48 seconds into him to take the jersey again.

roche visintini

There was already an settlement to kill me off, it was all deliberate a very long time in the past – Roche had staked all the pieces on that season as a result of he knew it was his season – I repeat, he had staked all the pieces on that season! No one denies that he was sturdy on the Tour, however don’t inform me that it wasn’t a cowardly assault on the Giro, as a result of it was. It was not the behaviour you count on from a teammate – you all the time work for many who have the chief’s jersey, Saronni and I labored for Bordonali when in 1989 he gained the Ruta del Sol, he was only a younger rider however that’s what you do – all the time. I used to be attacked with cowardice, betrayed by pals and by an incompetent DS who ought to have made Roche get out of the breakaway in any respect prices. I stated to myself that such a false surroundings was not for me, I stayed within the race solely as a result of I used to be knowledgeable and never a clown.

giro87 visentini roche

Have you learnt that there are DS with braveness and energy who would pressure their riders off the highway with the workforce automobile if they didn’t observe workforce orders? The general public who observe biking don’t know this stuff, they decide as a result of they see half an hour of racing on TV and skim some strains within the newspaper within the morning. I want to see if the opposite approach round; would the followers of Roche have been glad if I had attacked whereas he was within the chief’s jersey? Would they are saying that my actions weren’t these of betrayal? Roche already promised one thing to all those that helped him in that race. Folks whom I had helped, who in earlier years had earned cash because of my victories, individuals who maybe had stayed on the workforce because of the truth that I had renounced a few of my wage as a result of I knew that they’d households and maybe wouldn’t have remained on the workforce had I not helped financially. And I’m not simply speaking about riders – these individuals have been simply purchased. The place has it ever been seen {that a} workforce mate assaults the team-mate who gained the yr earlier than within the chief’s jersey? And never as soon as however twice!


PEZ: The ’88 Tour time trial, the place you misplaced to Yates however he rode within the dry and also you within the midst of a storm.
As we have been saying earlier than – luck. That day at Wasquehal I used to be using very properly, however another person gained. Might I’ve gained? Regardless of the water and wind I feel I misplaced by simply 14 seconds – however that’s the way it went sadly. The time trials have been my speciality, I all the time began at full throttle however not on the demise, I all the time stored a bit of little bit of margin.

Tour cobbles – Visentini, Phil Anderson and Greg Lemond

PEZ: Malvor in ’89.
I signed with Malvor in July with out saying something to anybody. I’ve great recollections of that yr, the DS, Algeri was a real buddy. It was a powerful workforce with Contini, Saronni, Ballerini, Pagnin Allocchio and lots of others; I discovered their enthusiasm refreshing, it was an surroundings of honest individuals. As traditional I wager all the pieces on the Giro and as traditional – Woman Luck performed an element. Earlier than the race I used to be hit by a automobile in coaching and I broke my foot – goodbye Giro. I knew I used to be going properly as a result of I used to be second within the Avignon time trial on the Criterium Worldwide overwhelmed solely by Indurain and I’m positive that on the Giro I might have fought to win it. There was Fignon however we knew he was betting all the pieces on the Tour, he gained with my workforce mate Giupponi second. I feel I might have performed properly that yr as a result of the workforce was rather well geared up – however Woman Luck. . .

visentini lemond
Crash with Greg Lemond within the Tour

PEZ: Your ultimate workforce, Jolly Membership 88.
Jolly was a badly constructed workforce, not properly organised however I’m completely not speaking concerning the riders who have been all good guys. I’m speaking concerning the workers sponsors executives and officers. The athletes I bear in mind with pleasure Ettor Pastorelli, a person from Brescia, like me; then there have been guys like Silvio Martinello, Maurizio Rossi the younger Endrio Leoni, Stefano Colagè – individuals of worth, It was too dangerous concerning the dangerous administration of the workforce.


PEZ: How did you adapt to ‘civilian life?
The bike was just a bit a part of my life, I used to be a rider, rider? Perhaps even a champion? However that was all gone – actual life begins if you come off the bike. I take pleasure in life as I all the time did, my household, my job my pals – however actually only a few from the biking world.


PEZ: The ‘Playboy’ picture, your take please?
The playboy story is all bullshit invented by 4 low-cost journalists, individuals who have by no means ridden a bicycle; strive having intercourse with a lady and the following day trip the Stelvio – that’s to win, to not stroll. All bullshit, the bike doesn’t go itself in case you don’t practice and also you don’t stay the lifetime of an athlete you don’t do something. Those that say that I didn’t practice don’t know me, I’ll provide you with an instance, many individuals stated; ‘Visentini trains little, I see him all the time coming house early from coaching.’ Extra bullshit, I all the time went out at 07:00 am, I used to be on the bike at that hour, summer time and winter, they noticed me come again earlier as a result of the opposite professionals within the space went out at 09:00 am and got here again at 14:00 pm, whereas I needed to be house at 12:00 or 12:30 pm. The journalists – what number of lies they invented about me, I’d stated one factor within the night to a journalist and the following morning within the newspaper I’d learn one other, simply unprofessional individuals! Lately my buddy Lucio Belli introduced me welcome greetings from Robert Millar (now Philippa York) after 34 years she needed to elucidate the info of my fall in Pila the place once more I broke my scaphoid. However the journalists on the time wrote that I stated that Pippa had thrown the bike again on function uphill to make me fall – extra bullshit! I by no means stated something like that, I used to be simply pissed off as a result of I had fallen and damaged my scaphoid however I knew was nobody’s fault.

visentini kuiper
With Hennie Kuiper

PEZ: Regrets?
Only one, sure. I ought to have gone with Cyrille Guimard when he requested me to affix his workforce. However that was my fault – an enormous mistake. He had the perfect workforce organisation of the occasions, in each respect – that’s EVERY respect.

belli visentini
Lucio Belli and Roberto Visentini

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