It seems strange to highlight a rider that is the current holder of the KOTM jersey at the Giro, but here goes!
He has a reputation as being a crazy breakaway rider and he was 2nd in the KOTM competition at the Giro in 2012 and went one better last year, this was a massive moment for himself and his team Bardiani CSF.
Now 26 years old, he can start to look at the next phase of his career, a GC rider.
In 2013 he had 2 extremely good ITT results: he was 2nd in the Italian Championships, behind Pinotti, and 8th in the Tour of Britain.
To be a GC rider you must be good at climbing and time-trialling, and he is!
Don’t expect a sudden attempt at a grand tour but a 1 week race is well within his capabilities.
Will he attempt to retain the KOTM jersey at the Giro, well read his interview and decide yourself!
You had a good overall result in the Giro del Trentino, finishing 7th. You were in the break with Siutsou and Rolland on stage 2, when Siutsou won the stage, and you had a great battle with him. How pleased were you with 7th in the GC?
Yes! It was a really good Trentino, I took 3 top 10 results in 3 stages and I showed that my shape was ready for the upcoming Giro d’Italia.
How proud were you to win the KOM jersey at the Giro, especially after finishing 2nd in 2012?
With the team we set this goal in the Winter and so we focused since the first days of the Giro to win the blue jersey. It wasn’t easy to keep it until the end because I have to use all of my energy to gain the points and I didn’t have the possibility to fight for a stage win. Anyway I am very proud to become KOM of Giro d’Italia, it was great for me and my team.
Your performance in the ITT National Championships, 2nd, surprised many people, had you been working on this discipline?
When I was under 23 I always did good time trials. So I was confident that thanks to a suitable route for my skill, I would achieve a good result and I did. This year I worked often on my TT position and I also made a solid performance at the Tour of Britain, when I finished 8th against some of the strongest time trialists in the world.
With Pinotti now retired, do you fancy your chances of winning the title in 2014?
I don’t know the route of the championship yet but of course I’ll try to win the jersey next year.
You are a brilliant, attacking rider. What goes through your mind when you keep attacking your breakaway companions?
It’s my way to race, but I know if I want to start to focus more on the final and win, I have to attack less. It’s something I’m working on, it’s not easy but I hope next year to be more relaxed and have the patience to wait till the finale to attack.
You are now entering your prime as a cyclist. Will we see you start to try and target the GC in races?
This is my dream and my goal for the next years. I showed that I’m good in ITT and also on the mountains, so the next step is to be competitive in the GC. First I want to try in short stage races and then in a big tour, first of all the Giro d’Italia. I hope in 2 years to be competitive.
The Giro ITT in 2014 is going to be a hard one near Barolo. This looks like being a course for you. Might we see you target this stage?
I was there when they presented the stage. First me and my team have to wait for the official invite from the RCS Sport, then we’ll start to study really well every single stage. Anyway this ITT could be suitable for me but I have to wait and see my condition on that day.
How does it feel being the “old man” of the team at just 26?
Not yet! I’m proud to be part of a young team like this. I have really good friends here and also there is a strong relationship with all riders and staff. Modolo left the team and now I”m the rider with the most experience. I hope to be a good example for the youngest.
What type of races suit you best?
I like stage races with long climbs, but also if I’m in really good shape I can be competitive in one day races with steep hills.
Will you be trying to defend the KOM jersey at the Giro, or will you be targeting the GC?
I don’t know. As I said, last year was a great success but for this jersey I didn’t have the energy to race for a stage win. Also in the 2014 Giro, there are a lot of mountaintop finishes, so it’ll be hard to make points with early attacks. My goal will be to try and win a mountain stage and then will see for the GC.
What are your goals for 2014?
Make another step of growth and be able to win my first pro race. Then try to do a really good classification in short stage races like Coppi e Bartali and Giro del Trentino. Finally, of course, to be at my best for the Giro d’Italia and make a great race for my team, sponsors and fans.