I had told you that I liked the Italian Championships’ route, hadn’t I? It’s not enough to win a race, of course. Just a few times, though, if ever, I had come to a one-day race with such a confidence to have a big, big chance on hand. In the minutes before the race, I was getting in the zone, in search of the best concentration, and try to shoo away all that could stand between me and MY big day.
Many people had said it was a route for puncheurs, and they were probably right, if you see how the race unfolded in the final lap. My idea was to come down to a sprint, and play my chances against those who could pass over the last ascent to the Cornaleto climb. Instead, I – a sprinter - tackled the climb in first position: an incredible push by Marco Coledan led me in perfect position, the highlight a perfect team work by Trek-Segafredo. Thank you Marco, Eugenio, Fabio, Niccolò.
I was first at the foot of the climb, even too soon maybe. Gatto accelerates, then Brambilla accelerates, but I hang in there. After the top, there were five of us. Brambilla attacks again on descent, and there I decide that I would rather lose the race taking a risk than sitting on wheels. A couple of MotoGP-style bends, and I am back over Gianluca. I can’t see anyone coming from behind, and that’s when I realize that it could really become MY big day. The one of my first ever National Champion’s jersey.
I lived the final kilometer in a trance, I almost can’t recall the moment I came out of Brambilla’s wheel and raised my arms to the sky, but I have a number of picture that can help in that sense. Instead, I still feel the deep emotion of hugging my father – excited as I had ever seen him – and my teammates, and shaking hands with a big, big number of opponents who came to congratulate after the finish. It’s not something I take for granted, at all.
And then the jersey, the national anthem, my fans club cheering and singing, the hundreths of messages and notification, and so much more. A day to remember, for sure.
I think of this victory as the best moment so far of a very good season, and a possible breakthrough moment for me, for the future. A future I will share with Trek-Segafredo, for two more years. Even if with a different look, over the next twelve months.
I won’t deny that I am already thinking of the Italian Champion jersey’s design – easy guess, maybe. Many people are writing to me in these days (I read everything… thank you everyone for your words and support, even if I don’t manage to reply to each and every of you), I want to say that I like the Italian Tricolore a LOT, and I would like the new jersey to highlight it, even though I will have to speak with the team on this regard. I will put my personal touch, that’s for sure.
Now, I get back to my vacation. Speak to you in a few days. Greetings from Ibiza!