The 25 year old Italian has just completed his 2nd season with Caja Rural-Seguros RGA and is about to start his 3rd.
He is a sprinter that goes well in flat finishes and uphill sprints.
His best achievement of the year was his win in Vuelta Ciclista a La Rioja, where he beat Michael Matthews. He finished 3rd on GC in Vuelta a Castilla y Leon and had 13 top 10 finishes, but his season was disrupted by injury.
He completed his first grand tour and if he can stay injury free, he has a good chance of a big 2014.
Here is an interview I did with Francesco:-
You had a good season with 13 top 10 placings and a win at the Vuelta Ciclista a La Rioja. You were 3rd in the Clasica de Almeria, 3rd on GC in the Vuelta a Castilla y Leon and you did your 1st grand tour.
How pleased were you with your season?
We are quite satisfied especially with the first half of the season, a little less than that of the second half as I was affected by a fall in the Tour of Norway where I broke my pelvis, but generally speaking it was a good season.
You had a breakthrough victory this season in the Vuelta Ciclista a La Rioja. How happy were you to win, against Orica and Michael Matthews?
This year I was on the podium 7 times I hope that next year they can be transformed into victories, the only time I managed to get on the highest step of the podium was in the Vuelta a Rioja, beating Michael was a great satisfaction and on this occasion I think I’ve proved that it was not a fluke, after suffering a puncture with 7 km to go, thanks to a fantastic job of my teammates I was able to return to the group with 4 km remaining, for the goal to win the sprint.
How hard was the Vuelta Espana?
La Vuelta was really hard for several reasons, the first of all is the fact that for me this was my first Grand Tour and I did not have much experience. The second that I came from an injury and regaining good condition in competitive racing was not easy at all, then the luck was not on my side too, unfortunately, in the first week I got sick a lot and this impacted on the performance, making it even more a great ride as it was already very challenging.
You finished 6th on stage 12, with an uphill sprint. How did you find sprinting against Gilbert and the others?
In the 12th stage I started to find a good condition even though it was still very unstable, at best in that stage I would have ended in third place if I had not been closed on the barricades with 150 meters to go, I do not think with that condition I would be able to to beat Gilbert and Boasson Hagen, however, being there I think is a starting point ….
What is it like being Italian and riding for a Spanish team?
In Caja Rural I found myself very well and I think it’s one of the best young teams that must grow and gain experience, which has as it’s fundamental principles, hard and serious work, the team has not made me feel pressure in anyway, allowing me to grow and to get to this point, thanks mainly to help from all my teammates.
There is a chance that Caja Rural might get a wildcard for the Giro, how excited are you at the prospect of riding your home race?
I think it’s really difficult, the competition is hard … but as I say nothing is impossible, fingers crossed and let’s see …
You seem to like uphill sprints. Do you prefer them to flat sprints?
When I’m good I can do well in the uphill sprint, but usually I’m better in flat finishes.
What races best suit your skills?
The best for me are demanding mixed routes with a flat finish or even slightly uphill, depending on my condition.
What races are you targeting in 2014?
I still have to establish my calendar. This year I will start the season a little later, as I have to solve a little problem in my hip and back and start to race in March.
What are your goals for 2014?
It’s hard to say as I’m still to draw up my schedule, due to my injury, but definitely my first goal is to improve in 2014.