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2002 Season News
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Check out the Amstel Curacao race, Andrea's last event of the year

An interview with Andrea about winning the Premio Sport 2002 (6:57 in Italian)

Andrea looks back on his career with Mapei

November 21
 
Tafi awarded Premio Sport 2002

On Friday, November 22, Italian national team director Franco Ballerini, along with Alfredo Martini, will present Andrea Tafi with the "Premio Sport 2002" award. The ceremony will take place at the Centro Congressi "Versilia 2000" at the Hotel Le Dune di Lido di Camaiore. Also invited will be Italian U23 world champion Francesco Chicchi. The Premio Sport award has been presented every year since 1960 to those who have promoted the Camaiore region and the Lucca Province.

Tafi, 36, has been a professional since 1989, and rode together with Ballerini for five seasons under the Mapei colours. Following the team's withdrawal from the professional peloton, the Italian classics specialist will head north to join Bjarne Riis's Danish CSC team. (courtesy of cyclingnews.com)

MILAN, 22 November 2002 - "When they have telephoned to me in order to announce to me that I had gained the prize, I did not want to believe it. Before me, it had been delivered into the hands of unequalled riders like Bartali, Gimondi, Baresi and Merckx. Evidently I have made something of bond in my career ".  
 
Andrea Tafi, 37 years nearly, enjoys the Premio Sport 2002 and speaks with justified pride, but he does not consider it at all a seal to 14 years of activity. "I want to keep racing and, if possible, winning. Because, despite my age, I still have a lot of energy and a lot of desire within me ". To fulfill those desires, he goes to the Danish CSC team, directed by Bjarne Riis. Tafi is one of the 40 transfers of the Mapei team, which after a fine season has left cycling, and in CSC, "my first foreign team ever, I have found new stimuli. Riis has shown confidence in me and believes in me and demonstrates that with the facts, giving me free reign in the classics. I go to an ambitious team, and with the arrival of Ullrich it could still become more.  For my part, I do not expect to fill the void left from Jalabert's departure, but I know I can give a lot: I have recovered well from the accident of Prato of  24 September that has cost me three assorted fractures and other damages. Within a week,  I return to training, to prepare for a January appointment in the Tour Down Under ".
 
It's the first step towards better shape, to be ready for the the beginning of the World Cup classics. To begin, the Sanremo. "There are five pearls in my career (Lombardy ' 96, Rochester International Classic ' 97, Roubaix ' 99, Paris-Tours 2000, Fiandre 2002).  The most classic one is the jewel that is missing, even if Fiandre and Roubaix are fantastic.  I do not place limits on myself while I have the condition and determimation to race. It could be for a year or two. Sooner or later this cycling that has given a lot to me and to which I think I have given back something will end, but I will make my finish after winning ". (courtesy of La Gazzetta dello Sport)

On November 23, in Cecina, Andrea will take part in a charity event that Michele Bartoli is organizing.  The proceeds from the "Game of Solidarity," a football match between the Italian riders' team and the cycling journalists' will be donated to the town of San Giuliano di Puglia and to the "Emercency" association of Gino Strada.  Also present will be Bettini, Sciandri, Tafi, Scinto and many other riders.  Bravo Andrea and all the other cyclists! (courtesy of dailypeloton.com)

 
November 12
Andrea participated in his last race of the year, and the last time he would wear the famous Maglia a Cubetti, the Mapei colors, in an excursion to the Carribean to take part in the Amstel Curacao race.  Andrea won the Points Jersey and finished 7th in the race.
 
October 25
End of an Era

The 2002 season marks the end of the great Mapei dynasty, and the team finished its final year in typical fashion, by winning- and winning often. The team totaled 45 victories in 2002, topped the UCI team rankings for the eighth time, and won its fifth World Cup team title.

Following is an overview of the Mapei timeline, which highlights the sponsor's impressive depth and consistency in the biggest road events on the calendar.

1993: Mapei enters the cycling scene at the Giro d'Italia, as a replacement sponsor for Eldor who pulled out completely in mid-May, partly due to a doping affair involving one of its riders. Stefano Della Santa offers Mapei its first victory at the Trofeo Melinda.

1994: Spanish group Clas joins as a team sponsor. The new team, Mapei-Clas, wins 58 races and climbs to first place in the UCI team rankings. Gianluca Bortolami wins the Championship of Zürich and the Leeds International, on his way to winning the World Cup. Tony Rominger wins the Vuelta España and sets the world hour record.

1995: The formation is reinforced with a Belgian sponsor and a new group of riders. Mapei-GB is born and handily wins 81 races. Johan Museeuw wins the Tour of Flanders, the Championship of Zürich, and the World Cup overall, while Franco Ballerini wins Paris-Roubaix. Tony Rominger wins the Giro d'Italia and Abraham Olano becomes world champion. The team wins the World Cup and maintains its place atop the UCI rankings. The Mapei Sport Service Centre is opened in Castellanza (Varese), Italy.

1996: 82 wins for Mapei-GB. Museeuw wins Paris-Roubaix, the World Championships in Lugano, and the World Cup. Andrea Tafi wins the Giro di Lombardia. The team wins the Team World Cup title and claims first place in the UCI rankings.

1997: The pinnacle for Mapei-GB, with 95 victories, including Andrea Tafi's World Cup win at the Rochester Classic. The team is once again number one in the UCI rankings.

1998: 68 wins for Mapei-Bricobi, with Johan Museeuw taking the Tour of Flanders, Franco Ballerini winning Paris-Roubaix, and Oscar Camenzind taking the World Championships and the Giro di Lombardia. The team wins the Team World Cup and tops the UCI rankings.

1999: 51 wins for Mapei-Quick Step, including Paris-Roubaix for Andrea Tafi. The team maintains its first place in the UCI rankings.

2000: Mapei-Quick Step wins 78 races and notches its 500th victory since beginning sponsorship. Once again Mapei made its mark in the World Cup events, with Paris-Roubaix going to Museeuw, Bettini winning his first Liège-Bastogne-Liège, and Andrea Tafi soloing to victory in Paris-Tours. Mapei claims the World Cup team competition and is first in the UCI rankings. During this year the Young Riders Group was also formed.

2001: Mapei-Quick Step wins 45 races; Paolo Bettini wins the Zürich Championships and Oscar Freire becomes world champion for the second time in three years.

2002: Per UCI regulations, Mapei-Quick Step divides into two teams: the Top Team made up of 25 road and two track racers, and the GSIII team created to develop young riders. In total, the team wins 94 races, including two World Cup wins: Andrea Tafi's victory at the Tour of Flanders and Paolo Bettini at Liège-Bastogne-Liège. The team is ranked number one by the UCI and wins its fifth World Cup team title.

(the above courtesy of cycling news.com)
 
September 24
Bad News!
Andrea has been injured in a crash during the GP Industria & Commercio di Prato. He came down with three others after just 11 km of racing, and was taken to hospital in Empoli before being transferred to the Facial-Jaw Surgery Unit of Florence for further examination. He was diagnosed with a broken left cheek bone, and received 10 stitches to his chin. Tafi will be out of racing for at least 30 days, which means his season is over.
 
"I have no luck," the Italian told the France's AFP. "I was in good shape in Poland and I could have earned my place on the team for worlds. But then I had stomach problems last week and now this crash, I fear my season will end right here."
 
It's a shame as Andrea was a good bet to be selected for the Azzurri, a team that needs strongmen like him to work for a sprinter like Cipollini.
 
In last week's Giro del Lazio, Andrea finished 74th, five minutes down from the winner, Mapei teammate Bettini.
 
September 17
Andrea's next appointment is Saturday, 9/21 at a race he knows well, the Giro del Lazio, a prize he's claimed three times (91, 96, 98). It will be a Giro del Lazio inundated with new features. The start in Rieti and the arrival in Nettuno, after 196 kilometers, in fact, are completely new in the history of the race through the Lazio region of Italy. Other than that, new for this year is the edition of a KOM competition, with climbs categorized in Palestrina, Rocca Priora, and Rocca di Papa (Campi di Annibale). The finale will be contested on a downtown circuit of 4.6 kilometers, to be done three times, before finishing by the sea.
 
August 29
After the 3rd stage in which he finished 19th, Andrea lies 25th in GC at 17'06".  For the 4th stage, 32nd place and now 23 on GC after the time trial.  And for the last stage, Andrea finished second behind Mapei teammate Aggiano and moved up to 20th place in final GC, won the Most Combative Rider prize
 
August 28
After two stage of the Tour du Poitou-Charantes, Andrea is 18th in GC after finishing 12th in Stage 1 and 35th in Stage 2.
 
August 25
In France, Andrea played an active role in the GP Ouest France in Plouay, on basically the same course used for the World Championships.  Andrea was in the attacking groups and found himself on the front in the final meters.  He led out the sprint in a brave attempt to foil the pure sprinters and had to setle for 10th place.  But the form is there and on a flat course, Andrea showed he can play a useful part for the Italian team in the upcoming Mondiale.  Was Ballerini watching?
 
Next appointment for Andrea is the Tour du Poitou-Charantes which starts next Tuesday in Saint-Maixent-L'Ecole, France.
 
August 22
Back in Legnano, Italy, Andrea finished in 11th place at the Coppa Bernocchi, with the same time as winner and Mapei teammate Nardello.  Andrea and teammate Paolini did the work in the final kms to set up Nardello's win.
 
August 19
Andrea finished the Tour of Denmark's final stage in the same time as the leaders in 37th place.  His final GC was 24th at 3'43", 12th in the points competition and 4th in the most aggresssive rider classification.  But the big story is his new contract with CSC-Tiscali for next year.
 
August 16
Andrea finished in the big group today, 5 secs behind the winner for 44th place and is 9th on GC at 2'25" after Stage 4a. In the afternoon 16km time trial Stage 4b, Andrea placed 55th, 2'02" behind winner and Mapei teammate Bodrogi.  Andrea is now in 24th on GC at 3'44".
 
Tafi to Denmark! It's official from the CSC-Tiscali website
http://www.csc-tiscali.com/uk/index.php

The strong Italian classics specialist, Andrea Tafi, is to sign a one-year contract with CSC Tiscali in one of the coming days. Tafi, this years winner of the Tour of Flanders, has 5 world cup wins on his palmares and team manager, Bjarne Riis, welcomes this new addition to the team.

"Tafi is a spectacular rider. He has won some very big races and he has lots of experience plus an enormous physical capacity. In Tafi, the team will have a class rider and a valuable asset. He always works hard for the team and he suits our profile very well", says Bjarne Riis about the 36-year-old Andrea Tafi who has spent the past few years at the Mapei team.
 
"I have chosen CSC-Tiscali because already during out first encounter, team manager Riis has shown to have a lot of confidence in me," said Tafi. "The team is competitive for me. The racers and the staff believe in my plan to win Paris-Roubaix. In the second part of the season I will be at the disposition of Hamilton and co. in the Giro and the Tour. I want to finish on a high note and to leave the indelible sign of the Gladiator on season 2003."

August 15
Andrea is now in 8th on GC at 2'25", after finishing in the main field in 33rd.  He was active in the attacks today and is tied for the Most Aggressive Rider with 10 points.

August 14
Today in the 2nd stage, riding in the green jersey, Andrea finished 21st in the big field sprint and now lies 7th on GC at 1'13".  After yesterday's stage, Andrea told Danish television that he takes this race very seriously and that he will give it his best shot to try to win it.  Look for some good action in tomorrow's "Queen Stage"!

August 14
In the first stage of the Tour of Denmark, Andrea was very active. About 20 kilometres form the finish the bunch was down to 50 guys, on the last lap with one rider away with a lead of 1 minute, Andrea was in at the finish for the sprint and finished fourth.  He is also in 4th in GC. He won an intermediate sprint and is second in that competition behind the GC leader so he will wear the green points jersey tomorow.

August 12
Andrea's next appointment is tomorrow at the Post Danmark Rundt in Denmark which runs from Tuesday 13 Aug- Saturday 17 Aug.

August 8
Andrea finished 39th in today's race, the GP Citta di Camaiore. Some photos on Photos 2002 Season Page

August 5
Andrea finished 53rd in the latest round of the World Cup, the HEW Cyclassics in Hamburg, Germany. Andrea will be on the Mapei team that competes at the GP Città di Camaiore in Italy on August 8, a race that he won in 1998

July 28
After a 19th place in the final stage into Paris, Andrea finishes his sixth and most likely last Tour de France in 106th final GC. Some pictures from the Tour are on the "Photos 2002 Season" page

June 28
Andrea finished the weeklong Volta a Catalunya in 68th place.

June 18
Stage 2, a 182.9 kilometre ride from La Senia to Les Borges Blanques, saw most of its action on a challenging category one climb on the Alto de Prades, with its summit at 35km from the finish. Once it was evident that the race would end in a mass sprint, all the speedsters moved up to the front, with Mapei's Freire finishing half a wheel behind the winner and Andrea right in his shadow for third on the stage and 18th place in the GC

June 17
Andrea started today at the week-long Volta a Catalunya from June 17 to June 23. Team Mapei finished third in today's 30.9-kilometre team time-trial, with a time of 34 minutes, 46 seconds, just 10 seconds down from the winning time

May 13
Andrea DNF the 5th stage of the 4 Days of Dunkirk. His results were Stage 1-34th, Stage 2-30th, Satge 3-45th, Stage 4 TT-18th

May 11
Andrea Tafi will be seen driving a Porsche from now on. His loving wife Gloria bought him the newest model, a Porsche 996, for his birthday last Tuesday!

May 8
Yesterday was Andrea Tafi's 36th birthday, born on the 7th of May 1966. But surprisingly Andrea is celebrating his birthday in a slightly unusual place, perhaps you would expect him to be in Italy preparing for this weekend's Giro dItalia, but no, he is actually missing the Giro this year and he is in Dunkirk for the start of the Four Days of Dunkirk which starts tomorrow in the Nord-Pas-de-Calais region of France. Andrea Tafi gave this interview to the French media on the occasion of his 36th birthday.
 
Tafi likes racing in the north western corner of France where the 4 Days of Dunkirk takes place and where his beloved Paris-Roubaix is also run. "I come to this race with much motivation", says Tafi who recently participated in the GP Denain in the area and was a major protagonist in the race, "I do not come to races to look at the scenery and I will try something on the roads of Nord-Pas-de-Calais, I won Paris-Roubaix in this area in 1999 and also the GP Fourmies in 1994 and 1997. I am always glad to race in France where I have many supporters, the Four Day is a beautiful race with good organisation and I will meet some old friends while I am here".

Tafi says he is not sure what the Mapei line up for the Dunkirk race will be, "I do not know, I will speak about it with Eric Vanderaerden, the director sportif, however this will be my last race before I take a little rest, I have been competing since January, I have had 52 days of racing already this year and it is not possible to race all the time".

When asked why he is not in Italy for the Giro dItalia, Tafi says, "I spoke with my manager and told him I wanted to participate in the Tour de France and set myself up for a good second part of the season with an eye on the summer World Cup events and the World Champs". The obvious question of retirement is alway being asked in any interview that Andrea conducts, but he does seem to be enjoying the twilight of his career. "I had thought about finishing at the end of this year but now I am thinking of another year or two, I discussed this with Franco Ballerini, who is a near neighbour and I am motivated to prolong my career, nothing is decided but if it is agreeable to Mapei then I would be glad to remain with them".

The 36 year old from Lamporecchio, near Pistoia in Tuscany still talks with spirit and determination about bike racing, the words motivation and sacrifice often pass his lips. "Riders of the age of myself and Cipollini need motivation at the stage of our careers, if you can make sacrifices you can still be a good rider, one learns with experience. From tomorrow to Sunday Tafi will be riding amongst a public who love him and the feeling is reciprocal. "We want people to come and see us this week and view the evidence that the ambiance in cycling is good and the riders are doing everything to make it a healthy sport".

May 7
BUON COMPLEANNO, ANDREA!

May 3
Andrea finished 21st in the Henniger Turm withthe same time as the winner. He next heads to the G.P. Industria in Artigianato in Italy on Saturday May 4

April 30
After a few weeks rest following the Spring Classics campaign, Tour of Flanders winner Tafi returns to racing tomorrow in the Rund um den Henninger Turm in Frankfurt on May 1. While the Mapei team for the upcoming Giro d'Italia has not been named, Andrea has made no secret of his desire to take his place in the race. In the current UCI ranking, Andrea has 411 points for 120th place.  In the current World Cup standings, he is in 5th place with 109 points.

April 14
With so many mechanical problems (2 bike changes, numerous flats) it just wasn't Andrea's day in Paris-Roubaix. About 3 minutes back after Arenberg, he could never make up the gaps. He finished the race as a tribute to himself and his respect for the Queen of the Classics, placing 17th, 9:11 back. I met up with Andrea in the Arenberg Forest and the rest of the Mapei team on the Friday before the race.  You can see some of the pictures on the Spring Classics site at http://mapeifan.tripod.com/classics/
 
April 12
Andrea and the rest of the team trained on the Paris-Roubaix course. I saw him in the Arenberg Forest

April 10
Andrea took it easy today at Gent-Wevelgem after Sunday's hard win at Flanders. he did not finish the race.

April 7
He's done it! With a bold attack within the last kilometers, Andrea adds to his World Cup wins with a stunning victory at the Ronde van Vlaanderen that I was lucky enough to see in person. Check the special Tour of Flanders page for more pictures and story.
 
March 29
Andrea will do his final preparation for the Spring Classics at the KBC 3 Jours de la Panne from April 2 - 4.
 
March 27
Andrea led the Mapei squadra to a Stage 1A victory at the Settimana Ciclistica Internazionale Coppi-Bartali in Rimini, Italy.
March 25
Andrea finishes 23rd in the final stage into Nice and ends up 49th in the final GC at 22:39", 22nd in the points competition. On to the Northern Classics campaign- See you there Tafone!

March 15
After the tough Mont Faron stage in which he finished 6 minute back of the leaders, Andrea showed his talent as a true rouleur, winning points in the Sprints, KOM and combativity classifications and finishing 12th in the bunch finish on a day teammate and compatriot Bettini won the day's stage at Tirreno

March 13
Paris-Nice Stage 3. A harder today into St. Etienne, home of Mapei tire sponsor Michelin. Andrea finished in 55th at 1'20" and is 57th on GC at 1'53".

March 12
Making the best of a bad situation, Andrea powered to a fourth place finish in the stage today after teammate and top sprinter Steels punctured in the last kilometer and finished 102nd GC at :39 seconds

March 11
Busy day for the man from Lamporecchio! Playing the team man, Andrea won the bonus sprint in Saint-Amand Montrond to protect his teammate's GC lead, drove the bunch to discourage attacks and helped to try and put teammate Steels in a position to win the stage. Andrea finished in the same time as the winner and was 49th on the stage and 114th in GC at 33". He even won points in the combativity classification.

March 10
Andrea begins Paris-Nice with 128th place in the 5.2 km prologue, finishing 32 seconds behind Mapei teammate and stage winner Bodrogi.

March 8
Training near his home in Lamporecchio, Andrea was a witness, while on the opposite side of the road, to an accident involving a young racer who got hit by a car. Tafi stopped on a dime and assisted the young athlete.

March 3
Andrea has finished the Tour of Valencia. He was 58th in the final time trial and placed 73rd in final GC at 16 min 52 sec. His stage finishes were 60th, 29th, 96th, 67th and 58th today. Andrea also picked up 6 points in the mountains competition for 21st.

February 11
At 36 years old, Andrea Tafi has again given a lesson of cycling to the young participants of the Tour de Langkawi in Malaysia. His example shows how great the job of a bike rider is and how hard it is to quit.

"Look at me now, I'm 3 kilos less than my weight on form!," he said, and explained: When I think or hear of quitting cycling, I become anxious. It has been announced that Tafi may retire at the end of the 2002 season, but he denies. Even being 36 years old this year, he'll go for another campaign if he feels he can still win big races, and that's why he has done more sacrifices than ever for losing weight during the off-season.

Tafi is a popular person. He's always available for the public, the press and race organizers. Sunday morning in Kuala Lumpur, before the final criterium of the Tour de Langkawi, he led the Ride with Tafi, which attracted more than 1000 participants. "I'm very keen to do anything that can promote cycling all over the world," he said. "I gave a pair of gloves to a Japanese rider [Koji Fukushima] who was so proud to wear them that he defended his polka dot jersey very well [he eventually lost it to Columbian Ruber Marin of Selle Italia]. I'm very grateful to what the organization does for us in Malaysia. I've raced here four times and I always do my best to win stages".

He didn't manage to make it though. But he tried! So many times in ten days of racing he attacked and failed. "It's very difficult for me to win because everyone watches Tafi," he pretended. It is so obvious when a rider is desperate for winning that all of Mapei's adversaries followed his moves. He thought he could win a bunch sprint but was disqualified for not keeping his lane at the end of stage 8. He also pretended he could win at the top of Genting Highlands but blew up in the middle of the climb.

Tafi wants to win so badly that it's sometimes difficult for his team-mates to understand what hes doing in a race. Fabrizio Fabbri, the team manager who has worked closely with him in his past nine years at Mapei, will have to use him at his best. "At his age and after all the great races he won in the past, it's nice to see how much he loves his job," Fabbri declared. "I think if everything goes well, this year we'll see again the Tafi of his best years.

"I don't want to talk about Paris-Roubaix yet, but I should be ready that day," Tafi said with his typical smile of an old warrior who knows everything about the biggest battles and was finally happy to go back home after 40 days of training and racing under the sun in the Southern Hemisphere.

February 10 
Andrea had a strong ride in the final stage of the Tour de Langkawi, finishing 5th. Mapei win the team and Points classification. Andrea finished 5th in the points competition and 24th in GC and now continues his early season racing at the Vuelta a Valencia in preparation for the main objectives in the northern Spring Classics.

February 9
A tough day in the Genting Highlands. Andrea finished 14th on the big climbing stage and now holds 26th in GC and is 4th in the points competition. Mapei continue to lead the team classification.

February 8
The shortest stage of the Tour de Langkawi proved to be the fastest as well, with an average speed of 48.63 kilometres per hour. Although he finished 3rd, Tafi was later relegated for sprinting irregularities- meaning he threw his elbows around a lot. The final kilometre left no margin for error, with riders facing a roundabout and then a sharp left hand turn 150 meters before the finish line. Mapei was working to set up Tafi for his first stage victory, but he could not hold off the late charging Salomone and Nauduzs. Tafi's aggressive riding not only got him relegated to 107th place but he no longer wears the green jersey.

February 7
The team put on an awesome display into strong crosswinds to put many would be GC threats out of contention and tighten Mapei's grip on GC and team leadership. Andrea was a workhorse once again and provided a fine leadout for teammate and GC leader Hunter. Andrea finished 17th today, with the same time as the winner.

February 6
The Mapei plan was to set up the win for Andrea. Race leader Hunter did the leadout but was seen looking round in the closing metres - expecting Tafi to come off his wheel and snatch the victory but Tafi was not close enough and ended up in 4th place. 46.4 km were covered in the first hour of racing and Tafi was prominent at the front stringing them out with his forceful riding. Three riders attacked at 62 km and pulled eight seconds ahead but again Tafi turned up the pace to bring them back, with the speedometer registering 60 kph.

February 5
Not a stellar day for Tafone. He missed the crucial break in today's stage and finished 15 minutes behind teammate Hunter who won the stage, and plummeted out of GC contention into 36th place. "I was in the wrong place at the wrong time and missed the split," the 35-year old champion said ruefully, adding that from here on in his efforts will be concentrated on trying to score a stage win to set the seal on what will be his last appearance in this tour. Andrea still wears the green points jersey.

February 4
With teammates Hunter and Scinto in the break that went away on Frasers Hill, Andrea was put in the role of policeman. He showed his good form by winning the field sprint, but the time 2 minutes behind the leaders dropped him to 16th in GC at 3'25". With Hunter still in the yellow leaders jersey, Andrea keeps the green points jersey.

February 3
Hopes had been high in the Mapei camp that their superhero Andrea Tafi, Malaysia's favorite Italian cyclist, would take the stage after his second place on stage 2. He was in the thick of the action all day, driving the pace along and helping to cause the splits. Things looked good for Tafi towards the end when he proved the locomotive in a 14 strong group that managed to open a gap over the main bunch as the road ground upwards.

"Everyone was working well together and we got the lead up to over a minute," said Tafi at the finish, "Then as the bunch closed down on us our group slowly whittled down to five. Our little group lost its cohesion because eventually there were just three of us forcing the pace with the other two just tapping along," said Tafi. They were caught within sight of the 1km flag but Tafi managed to stay towards the front and finished a creditable seventh and remains 5th on GC. With teammate Hunter still in yellow, Tafi shows the green points jersey.

Tafi was bitterly disappointed, since they came so close. "I was convinced that I could do it. I wanted to win this stage, because I am feeling very good right now. Early on, the break was good, everyone was working, but then it dropped to 5 and only a few would help me. The other riders were not convinced that they could win, but when I am in a break I want it to succeed. Now I will have to win tomorrow!"
February 2
Benefiting from a perfect lead-out by Andrea, teammate Hunter hit the front within the last 150 metres to win the stage and hold the leader's jersey. Tafi took third and almost the entire 151 strong field was packed together immediately behind them.

"Andrea had told me earlier that he would give me a lead-out in the sprint," said Hunter, adding, "With a few hundred metres to go I was tucked in behind the Ceramiche Panaria 'train' waiting for one of them to launch the sprint. It was then that I sensed Andrea coming past me with a rush and he yelled for me to get on his wheel. It was a perfect move and we went past them like they were standing still. "We hit the final 90 degree corner into the finishing straight at the front, and that's the way it stayed for the final couple of hundred metres." Said Tafi: "Robert's form is really good and we are happy that he has stayed in yellow." Andrea now wears the green points jersey and moves up to 5th on GC.

February 1
Wearing #11, Andrea returned to the Tour de Langkawi. Finishing 1'.11" behind teammate and stage winner Robert Hunter, Andrea was 6th on the stage, earning 10 points and is 6th on GC. Andrea covered the 20.3 km course at a speed of 28.6 mph.

January 21
Despite Tafi saying he was considering retirement within the year because at 35, "Sono troppo vecchio," he says with a laugh, Mapei DS Daninari is confident he will hold onto the top rider for a while yet. "He has 35 years but he is young," he said. "He likes his work and he is good at it."

January 20
Andrea capped off a great start of the season with two strong attacks late in the last stage, he's obviously feeling good. 8th in final GC, 4 teammates in the top 8, Mapei wins the team GC. On to Malaysia!

January 19
On a really hot day, Andrea finished 11th and is now 8th on GC. It was a podium sweep for Mapei on the 5th stage and they also lead the Team GC.

January 18
Tour Down Under- Andrea finishes 5th in the 4th stage and holds on to his 3rd place in GC, just 5 seconds off the lead.

January 17
Andrea's comments before today's Stage 3-
He was concerned by the strong headwind that would be blowing into the peloton during this morning's stage in Willunga. "It will be difficult (for a sprint) on the finish line and I'm hoping that Daniele Nardello and Cadel Evans will help if it's a sprint. I'd like to win one stage, but the whole the race will be difficult to win because I'm not really a sprinter. If you want to go to the front and attack with three or four riders it may be possible to win. I don't know because of the conditions and there is a big vento (wind)."

Tafi said he as it was the first stage race of the year he "was still finding his rhythm and normally after the three stages I will be feeling very good".

January 16
Andrea took third in today's Stage 2 of the Tour Down Under, (won by young teammate Michael Rogers), and now sits just 5 seconds out of the GC lead. Andrea took part in a breakaway and attacked the final group just before the finish.

January 16
MAPEI-QUICK STEP TEAM PRESENTATION
Next Friday, Jan 25, Team Mapei will present their 2002 team, which will be comprised of 40 riders. 27 riders will be part of the Top Team, while a lucky 13 will be part of the Young Group. The press conference is programmed for 11AM at the Mapei auditorium located in Jenner Avenue in Milano, Italy.

January 11, 2002
The Gladiator Undergoes Intense Sacrifices to reach the Hell of the North With Renewed Ambitions- article in Gazzetta dello Sport by Luca Giavanella

From Australia to Malaysia: Tour of the World in 40 days for another Roubaix. The Tuscan, 35 years old, finds himself in Adelaide and then to Kuala Lampur, he's doing the extraordinary for "his" race.

He left Italy on January 4 with teammates Nardello, Zanini and Paolini and will return home February 13 by himself. 40 days of training, in races from Australia to Malaysia. First, the Tour Down Under from Jan 15-20. Then, the Tour of Langkawi from Feb 1-10. Andrea Tafi did not want to save himself. At almost 36, (he'll celebrate on May 7) the Tuscan Gladiator from Mapei has opened his 14th professional season in a truly unusual way.

"It never happened to me, in all these years, to begin a season this early", he says. "It was a carefully laid out plan chosen by me and Aldo Sassi. I have so much desire to restart a 2001 that was not too hot. I wanted to prepare a great send off to my appointments in the campaign of the North, thus I decided to make one more sacrifice, to the disapproval of my family. I'm not sure all of this will pay off."

In the Lamporecchio house which was constructed on the Roubaix block of pave, after his Paris-Roubaix win in 1999, Tafi has left his lovely wife Gloria, his 11 year old son Tommaso, who by the way has chosen soccer over the bike and little 5 year old Greta, who aspires to be the next Fabiana Luperini. Tommy, has already begun to play soccer in the Calasanzio club, a town near Empoli and in 4 games, he has 3 goals. He requested that on his soccer jersey, he would have the same number that brought his Dad great luck- #17, the one he wore while winning Roubaix.

From Adelaide to Kula Lampur, then the European debut at the Vuelta Valenciana at the end of February. "Here is my program", he says, "I want these 40 days of races and preparations to be really consecutive. I cannot lose any time. Above all, I want an exceptional base. My form doesn't arrive that quickly. I need to race and pedal a lot! What's more, in these places I will find warm weather. My professional debut was in 1989 and to think of what I used to do in training for my seasons, it was so contrary to the norm. In 1992, when I moved to Carrera, I remember my Director Sportivo, Guiseppe Martinelli, used to write in my programs, 'Andrea, if you want, on Christmas day, a small ride won't hurt you'."

In Asia, Tafi will find on Feb 1 in Kuala Lampur, before the start of the first stage, the 1st Tafi Day, reserved only for the kids and organized by Mapei Malaysia. They expect 5,000 participants.

"Unlike other years, I began to pedal 10 days sooner, from Dec 5", adds Tafi, who in 2001 had only one win, at the Tour of Burgos. "The weather in Tuscany hasn't been that friendly to me. But I still had to train and even went out in heavy downpours. In other times, believe me, I would have gladly stayed indoors! But I'm in a particular program and I couldn't turn back. To ride this early in the year was totally new to me. I'm in Australia on tiptoes and want to come out without too much overwork."

What can we expect from Tafi in 2002?
"Above all, there are my classics and the Roubaix I feel the most. Flanders is also suited to me very well. With this mega expedition, I could also look forward to not gaining much weight, which always happens to accumulate. The years pass, but the spirit and determination is always present. I'd love to return to do the Giro, I will be ready for it in my heart!"

How far is retirement?
"Before I say 2002 is my last season, I want to gauge myself with others. If the form is there, and results come, I'll move forward and continue on. My wish is to race two more
seasons."

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