2013 was an incredible year for Bardiani, with 11 wins and the KOM jersey at the Giro d’Italia for Stefano Pirazzi. What did you think about the season?
2013 went really well. The sponsors and the team are satisfied with the results achieved, but we are working to improve in 2014. Pirazzi’s KOM jersey at the Giro was one of the best successes, it gave the team a world wide visibility. Stefano was super during the whole race, but I want a step of growth from him next year.
How happy were you with the season?
Really happy! Only one thing was wrong, we got too many 2nd places that could have been victories, but when you work with young riders, this is something you have to expect. For example, Colbrelli took several 2nd places. He’s young and I guess next year, with more experience, he can start to win. Anyway, it was a positive season, we have a base of talented riders that can do great things in the next few years.
Sacha Modolo has now moved to Lampre, who will you now look to in sprint finishes?
Sacha arrived at a turning point in his career and he decided to move to a World Tour team, I wish him the best of luck. For the 2014 sprints we have Fortin, who I expect to have an important season. Ruffoni, who is a neopro, but I guess he can be competitive in his first year. We also have Piechele, who came back from bad injuries this year and will be given a chance to show his talent. Finally there is Colbrelli, but he is not a “pure” sprinter, but more for the hilly route.
Stefano Locatelli had a brilliant Giro del Trentino, but faded after that. What can we expect from him in 2014?
Locatelli had two injuries last year, one in Winter and one in Summer, at Giro dell’Appennino. When he was in good shape he did a solid Giro del Trentino, but then he didn’t go well at the Giro d’Italia, where we expected a better performance. He has to be more relaxed, as he is a great talent, one of the best climbers in Italy. This year will be crucial for his future.
Manuel Bongiorno was very impressive in 2013. You must have high hopes for him in 2014?
Manuel and Edoardo Zardini, were the biggest surprises of our team, especially Bongiorno who did a great whole season. He started with victory in the youth classification of Coppi & Bartali, he continued during the Summer with solid performances and then he finished with 5th in Giro dell’Emilia in October. Despite his young age, he is very smart and a great worker, which I really like. Next year, if he continues in this way, it could be really positive. With him we aim to improve in the GC of some short stage races and try to win demanding 1 day races.
Stefano Pirazzi has spoken about changing into a GC rider, how does he do this?
Yes, this is something in Stefano’s mind and ours. He has the chance to achieve this high goal but first we have to change the way he races. If you want to make the GC in a big tour like the Giro, then you must be patient, save energy and only attack in the finale. Stefano is nearly 27 and has to become a different type of rider, if he wants to achieve this goal.
If given a wildcard for the Giro, what would you hope to achieve?
The Giro d’Italia is our most important event and as we have done in previous years, if we get a wildcard, we’ll be at the start in our best shape. Our goals are to win stages, as we did in 2013 with super Battaglin. Then we’ll see if we have the possibility to focus on a “jersey” or the GC. Anyway, I’m sure we’ll be at the Giro and we’ll be great protagonists. RCS Sport know this.
What are the goals for the team, in 2014?
Our team mission is developing young talented riders and bring them to international success, so this is our first goal. We have in the team some very good riders, we’re already working hard and we aim to achieve great results from the start of 2014. I expect a big season from Battaglin(who will be our leader), from Pirazzi, but of course from all our riders. In addition to the guys I’ve mention in the interview, we also have Coledan and Barbin who can grow significantly.
I can’t say “we want 10 or 15 wins”, as you can’t plan like this when you work with young riders, but I’m sure it will be a great new season and I hope better than the last.