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“We're going to ride all the national Italian races on the professional calendar that we can; races like Laigueglia and the Coppi & Bartali stage race. We'll have Under 23 riders and professionals together in the same squa...

Photo: Sirotti


16.11.2014 @ 14:26 Posted by Joseph Doherty

Italy coach Davide Cassani wants to improve Italian cycling by having U23 and elite athletes racing more regularly together.


Italian cycling has been deemed by many to be in a slump and outside of Nibali’s 2013 Giro and 2014 Tour win, they lack big victories. There has not been an Italian Monument win since Damiano Cunego won the Tour of Lombardy in 2008. There is only one Italian WorldTour team, Lampre-Merida, and none of the countries best riders ride for them, outside of Diego Ulissi, provided he is not banned from the sport.


Cassano only took over from Paolo Bettini this year but immediately he experienced how difficult his job would be, with Sonny Colbrelli the teams best finisher in 13th at the Worlds Road Race.


“With the other coaches Rino De Canidido (Juniors), Marino Amadori (Under 23) and Marco Villa (track), we've identified 30 riders in the Under 23 and Junior categories. We want to make a huge step up, we want the riders to feel part of the national team all year round so that they gain experience,” Cassani told Gazzetta dello Sport, after revealing his plans at special 'One takes on all' question and answer session also promoted by Kitchen manufacturer Euromobil and the Tuttobici website.


“We're going to ride all the national Italian races on the professional calendar that we can; races like Laigueglia and the Coppi & Bartali stage race. We'll have Under 23 riders and professionals together in the same squad so that we can raise the level of the young riders. The first race will be the Tour de San Luis in Argentina, with six riders: Battaglin, Ballerini, Consonni, maybe Viviani and another track rider. I wanted Nibali in the team and he liked the idea but his team have already said no.”


“We'll have training camps once a month for the Junior and Under 23 riders and they'll be open to the time trialists too. We'll also have a busy international calendar, riding all the Nations Cup Junior races and ride the Under 23 Paris-Roubaix. Young riders like Ganna and Affini, who did well at the Junior worlds, will race with the national team a lot.”


Cassani has strong English after studying the language in Britain and he has spent time studying the successful plans in Britain and Australia to revolutionize cycling, and both have been very successful. He hopes he can do the same with Italian cycling.


“Our culture for road racing is too strong. Right from the start, with the youngest rider, we've got to be open to riding on the track, BMX and mountain bike, we've got to make cycling a hobby rather than just thinking about results,” he said.


“We excel in Grand Tours thanks to Nibali and Aru is a huge young talent. Despite our problems, I'm optimistic about the future. If you look at the numbers, in 2014, of the 120 professional riders, 46 were under 25. That's a good sign but we need to give them time to develop. We've got riders like Formolo, Battaglin, Conti, Villella, Bonifazio and then Colbrelli, Moser. We've got the talent to succeed in the future.”




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