Bradley Wiggins paid me a huge compliment recently. He said that when he was a young rider he wanted to ride with the elegance of Maurizio Fondriest. After all that he has achieved, and as a rider with a beautiful style, I am very proud of this.
I still don’t understand why Wiggins wanted to get heavier for the Worlds time trial. Last year he won the time trial at the Tour and at the Olympic Games when he was very thin. So why change? To me, this seems crazy.
Winning the World Championship road race in 1988 was the best thing I could ever hope to achieve. I was never a Grand Tour rider; I was always a Classics rider. When I was young, I was very fast up the short, steep hills of the Classics but on the long climbs of the Grand Tours, I could never beat the top five riders.
I still think the best race is the Tour of Flanders. I rode this many times – third place, fifth place – but I never won it. It would have been nice to have victory in this race on my palmarès.
1993 was a great year for me. I won many races, but the best memory is Milan-San Remo – my first daughter, Vittoria, was born on the morning of the race and I’d been waiting a long time to win this race. It was the most special day of my life.
The Tour of Britain was great this year, with some fantastic racing. I remember racing there in 1990 and in 1994. The weather was 35 degrees [Celsius] when we started. The next day it was 20 degrees – always changing! But my best memory of racing in Britain is from [the Wincanton Classic, then part of the World Cup series in] Newcastle in 1989. Wearing the rainbow jersey, I outsprinted Sean Kelly for the win.
When I was a rider, I liked to build my own bikes. I was a perfectionist; everything had to be exactly right. I would spend sometimes hours just cleaning the bike before a race. Now I like to think about new solutions for my brand, it’s something I have a lot of passion for. I am involved with the engineers from the start, and I still get very excited when a prototype is ready for me to ride.
I like to ride with real people on big challenge rides. I have ridden the London-Paris event with Hotchillee twice and the finish on the Champs-Elysées is fabulous. This year is my first time at the Alpine Challenge, and for me it is perfect. When I train, I never ride on the flat – I only ride up big hills. I still love the sense of achievement when you reach the summit, there is nothing like it.
This article was first published in the October 17 issue of Cycling Weekly. Read Cycling Weekly magazine on the day of release where ever you are in the world International digital edition, UK digital edition. And if you like us, rate us!