The big kitchen table in Cecchini's country house just outside Lucca (Tuscany, Italy), is
the place were friends are always welcome to enjoy dinner. His sons, Azano and Stefano are regular visitors to this ritual
and Thomas Dekker is accepted as a family member as well. It's this table where many riders had dinner and a lot of these
riders are not only defending Cecchini in the typical 'omerta' style. They get really anry if Cecchini is being attacked.
Jörg Jaksche told Cyclingheroes in February: "Cecchini and his family belong to the best people I have met in the cycling
scene, he has nothing to do with doping, those who claim the opposite are lying! "
Luigi Cecchini is a charming man but his smile dissapeared as he told 'De Telegraaf': "Please say
that Thomas will stop our cooperation." He is almost begging. Cecchini continued by saying: "Unfortunately it is bad for his
image when he continues to work with me. I have a bad reputation. If media is creating
a certain image of you you can't really fight it. The authorities investigated me three times. They even tapped my phone.
But they found out quickly that I wasn't involved in doping affairs. If the UCI president places me under a damning light,
then its over."
Cecchini says that Dekker is able to train on his own and that he has faith in Rabobank trainer
Louis Delahaye. But he thinks Dekker should stay near the mountains. "If Thomas ever wants to become a major player in a grand
tour he has to climb every day. That is a condition. Thomas will always stay a friend of the family. They can't take that
away from us. He is one of the most social, talented and intelligent riders I ever worked with."
Cecchini will leave cycling with pain in his heart. He is still working with 5 other riders but
he is waiting for their decision to stop working with him. His office, which is on the other side of the road is full
of trophy's and pictures of riders with remarks like 'Grazie Cecco'. Bugno, Ballerini, Tchmile, Cipollini, Bartoli, Sörensen,
Bettini, Riis, Hamburger, Casagrande, Petacchi, Basso, Ullrich, Cancellara and Cunego are his most important champions.
He calls it a privilige that he worked with good riders. In his opinion a good trainer is somebody
who makes the least possible mistakes. "Cycling is not a professional sport yet. Look at football [European soccer], track
and field and tennis, where everybody has his personal trainer. Until five years ago in cycling the team manager did
everything and nowadays most teams have one trainer for 30 riders. A trainer can work well with 10 riders maximum."
In the eighties Cecchini was one of the first trainer who worked with the SRM-system. By monitoring
heartbeat, pedal frequency, power, watts and speed he got a very good picture of every
training session. Because he was riding 30.000 kilometers himself every year he was able to translate his own experience
to the SRM-system. Cecchini said: "I gathered a lot of experience and information of top riders. I am in daily
contact with riders and discuss their SRM print and personal memo's with them. Often I look half an hour at the information
before I decide how the rider will train on the following day. Thereby its important that the rider knows what he is doing.
Some call me a good psychologist. That's going too far. When a rider understands what he is doing, he will eventually
be the best trainer."