The abiding moment of the 2015 Giro D’Italia for me, the one that will live in my mind when I look back, comes not from one of the headlining Tenors or Baritones of this most operatic of Grand Tours. It comes from the one of the many unheralded voices that make up the race’s rich tapestry. In the Act in question, we are greeted by the sight of a loyal gregario, riding his heart out towards his home town in a spirited escape before the inevitable final scene must surely be played out by the kings of the sprint trains.. But wait- against all odds the escape eludes the charging fury of the pack! Maybe- just maybe- the dream of a Giro D’Italia victory for our local hero in the heart of his hometown could come true! Alas, all the greatest operas thrive on passion and, ultimately, heart wrenching tragedy. Alessandro rolled tearfully across the line in third place after a cagey then explosive finale, the emotion of the day laid bare.. Ciclissimo! published a short piece saluting Ale’s endeavour the morning after the drama of the tappa and is now delighted to be able to give this young member of the cast a chance to share his reflections and take one more bow to the gallery..
Ciclissimo! Firstly, how are your team-mates who didn’t finish the Giro due to injury? The team suffered some nasty injuries..
Alessandro Malaguti We have been unlucky in this Giro d’Italia losing a leader like Daniele Colli, our man for the sprints and then Damiano Cunego, who, in the stage where he fell, was looking to take a victory in the stage with Gilbert. Daniele now is feeling better. He fell at the beginning of the Giro, in the first half of May, so now is already working in the swimming pool and on the static bike, he will come back riding on the road soon. Damiano Cunego is still in a rest period after the accident. It was a bad fall, he must take his time to recover, but as soon as he is with us again, we will work all for him fighting for his victory in this 2015.
C!. Aside from the stage into Forli, what are your most vivid memories from the Giro? What moments or stories are the ones that stand out for you?
AM. The most beautiful moments of my Giro d’Italia, apart from Forlì, is the day of Castiglione della Pescaia, when I was in another escape with Eduard Grosu. We were five riders, with two of us from NIPPO Vini Fantini, it was a great action. Our escape had been caught by the group and then, unfortunately, I remember well the bad fall of Daniele..
The other great moment was in Sestreiere, the 20th stage arrival. There I realized that I have been able to finish all the Giro d’Italia, with a great work for the team, two escapes and a third place. At the arrival I kissed the finish line, my goal was reached.
C!. Ok- the stage into Forli! It was supposed to be a procession for the big sprinter’s teams, nobody gave a breakaway much chance of making it all the way- but you guys had other ideas! I’m guessing you had this stage marked on your calendar all along, is that correct?
AM. Si, Since november 2014 when the Giro d’Italia had been presented with the Forlì arrival. From that moment on I’ve been joking with my friends, without really believing that such a stage for sprinters will be the one with an escape coming until the arriva. The escape was absolutely planned. But the possibility to take the escape all the way to the finish was really near to the zero percent.
C!. When did you start to think that the escape could actually make it and hold off the chasing peloton? Was there talk between you all in the escape group?
AM. Yes, there was a lot of collaboration in the escape, only in this way was it possible to arrive. There was collaboration also because the escape was planned since many days. 5 days before, me and Marangoni, we have been speaking many times. At the start line three of us decided to make the escape together. My desire was to arrive with the escape 5-6 km before the arrival to join my home roads before all the group. During the escape when only 20-30 km were left and the group was so far from us, riding at most of 50 km per hour, we realized that was possible.
C!. When the TV commentator told us that you were the local racer I knew I had only one favourite for the win. You seemed to play it right in the last couple of km- the person who attacked first would never make it and you made sure you held your nerve. Then- Marangoni launched his move- talk us through the seconds that followed..
AM. Looking back to the arrival now with a cold mind I made everything in the wrong way; I closed down Marangoni, my friend with whom I have been planning the escape, but I’m losing my energy and making him lose the stage. Why? I was really tired after the long escape but really excited by the public and home roads. I lose clarity of thoughts and now I have the double regret to not have won and neither did my friend Marangoni..
C!. The emotion after you crossed the line in 3rd is what I watch the Giro for- the fine line between victory and heartbreak, the racer who races with his heart. Now you have had time to look back, what are your feelings of that day? Do you see the streets in Forli in a different light now when you walk through the town?
AM. Happiness for the great action, sadness for the missed opportunity. None believed in our arrival, but we did it, in the most important stage for me, but I missed the victory. Now when I ride in my home roads it is a strange mix of emotions. Some roads I don’t remember anything because I was really tired. But about the absolute final kilometres – each time I ride these again while training I remember a different piece of that day. I don’t know if I will ever forget or lose these sensations while riding in my home roads.
C!. You have crossed the line first in races during your career- which is the most lasting emotion: the wins or the one that just slipped through your fingers?
AM. The most important emotion in my career has been two years ago when I won in France, one month after my mother died. It was the Route Adelie de Vitrè- I’ll never forget that race, winning in memory of my mother.
C!. Looking to the future- what are your next targets in 2015? Can we look forward to more of the aggressive and passionate racing we saw everyday from you and the team?
AM. I’m a supporting rider, I will work for the team using my great condition after the Giro d’Italia to help my team mates to win. If we will have a great chance we will get it. Now we are in a good condition and we want to win!
(All Photo Credits NIPPO Vini Fantini)