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Diego Ulissi: “My focus is on the one-day races”

Just 24 years of age, Diego Ulissi is one of the best Italian riders this season. A 7th place in the Paris-Nice standings and the overall win in the Settimana Internazionale di Coppi e Bartali were his highlights in the first part of the year, results that were followed in July by a stage win in the Tour of Poland, at the top of Madonna di Campiglio, the mountain conquered by Marco Pantani in the 1999 Giro d’Italia.

Now, Ulissi is preparing for the Vuelta, where he hopes to have a strong ride, in order to be selected by Paolo Bettini for the World Championships in Firenze. What are his objectives for the next weeks and his dreams for the future? You can find out by reading this interview that I’ve made a couple of days ago, with the help of Mister Andrea Appiani, press officer for the Lampre-Merida team.

– Diego, are you satisfied with your season so far?

I’m quite satisfied: I obtained good victories and I was competitive in almost the races I took part, also in the most important ones. Anyway, I’m aware I can always do better and I’m willing to do better. It would be great for me to get a top victory in the rest of the season.

– What was the best moment of the year until now?

The stage victory on Madonna di Campiglio, in the first stage of the Tour de Pologne: I worked hard to be ready for the start of my second part of the season and I could get immediately to the target. And what a big target!

– You’re just 24 years old and already showed potential for the stage races. In the future, in which of these races do you think you could get important results?

In this part of my career, I’m focusing my attention on the one-day races. I know I need to improve my stamina on long distances, so I’m working hard to achieve this, in order to be competitive for a victory in one great Classic. I’m still young, so there will be time to try something in the Grand Tours, but before that, there are the one-day races.

– What aspects do you feel you have to improve in order to be a contender for the Grand Tours?

I think that, first of all, it’s a matter of mind: it’s not so simple to be focused for three weeks on a big target such as the general classification in a Grand Tour. Then, as I said before, I need to improve my stamina on long distances.

– Is there any extra pressure because the Italians have huge expectations from you?

No, I don’t feel this pressure. My team is supporting me always in a perfect way, without putting me under pressure, so they allowed me to cover an improvement path that, I’m sure, will bring me to top level. I think I’m near this level.

– What race do you dream of winning in the future?

I have many dreams, it’s difficult to choose one. One Classic race in the Ardennes will be a good dream to try to make come true.

– What’s your programme until the end of the season?

My next appointment will be the Vuelta a Espana, then I’ll take part in the World Championships if I’ll be called up in the National Team. In October, I’ll race in the Giro dell’Emilia and Il Lombardia.

– Speaking of the World Championships, what do you think of the profile of the road race?

Very interesting and demanding. In the final part of the circuit, in via Salviati, there’s a hill that could be perfect for an attack: it could be a winning attack if some riders will be brilliant.

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