In an interview with Gazzetta dello Sport, Michele Bartoli says he would like to return to racing. "It would not change my life," he said. "It would be purely for enjoyment." The return of Lance Armstrong and the longevity of Davide Rebellin have inspired him to consider taking out a license.
Bartoli, former winner of Tour of Flanders and Liège-Bastogne-Liège, still trains daily with Ivan Basso and Alessandro Petacchi. He keeps up just fine with his friends, which makes him "want to return." Il Gatto confided to Gazzetta that he still feels strong on the bike and doesn't consider his age a problem. His wife Alessandra is supportive of the idea.
In 2004, the Italian rode for CSC. In his words, the season was a "disaster." "Riis did strange things, not adapted to my head," explained Bartoli. The traditional survival camp did not suit him. He felt lost in a "game without frontiers," far from the familiar patterns of cycling as he knew it. "After 20 days, I cracked in my head," he said.
Though he won the Ronde, Bartoli never won Paris-Roubaix. He names missing the win at Roubaix his main "regret" from his career. But he believes he could be competitive there again, and also at Flanders. The challenge of racing against young up-and-coming talents such as Giovanni Visconti is "a motivation."
What are you doing for the Christmas holiday? Bartoli says he will stay at home. Then, he will meet up with Ivan Basso and Giovanni Lombardi. "Yes, we will train."
Interview by Claudio Ghisalberti, Gazzetta dello Sport.