Adriano Malori Interview: Looking back on his first year at the highest level
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Saturday, November 06, 2010

Adriano Malori Interview: Looking back on his first year at the highest level

by Jered Gruber at 5:42 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Interviews
 
2008 U23 World TT Champion got a taste of everything in his neo-pro season

At only 22 years old, Italian talent Adriano Malori, already has a glittering palmares highlighted by a dominating win at the 2008 U23 World Time Trial Championships in Varese and studded with impressive time trial results at every level, from the junior ranks all the way up to the ProTour. The native of Parma, which is 180 kilometers from the scene of his Varese triumph, confessed that it was the "most beautiful day of [his] life," but it was only one of a string of great results in 2008 that opened the door wide to his entry to the top ranks of cycling just one season later.

Following one more season in the U23 ranks, Malori received a stagiaire spot on the Lampre team at the end of the 2009 season. Satisfied with what he saw, Giuseppe Saronni signed the big engine on to a two year deal. Malori's neo-pro season was anything but a slow, steady rise - it was a baptism by fire. The multi-time Italian time trial champion raced many of the biggest races on the calendar in his debut year, including the Tour de France, where a 12th place finish in the prologue in Rotterdam seemed to herald a shot at a solid first week. However a crash in Stage 2 during the infamous stage to Spa put paid to that.

The young Italian was left to struggle just to continue in the sport's most difficult race. Eventually, Malori would finish as lanterne rouge in the 2010 Tour de France, but it was a finish nonetheless, and absolutely nothing to scoff at when considering that was his first ever Grand Tour. More importantly, Malori was a vital cog in the team in support of Alessandro Petacchi and his quest to take his first ever Green Jersey in Paris - which he did.

To just start the Tour de France as his debut Grand Tour was a significant achievement. To finish it, another thing entirely. Looking back on 2010, Malori can also count a number of solid results throughout his inaugural year, including a second place in the time trial at the Bayern Rundfahrt and an eventual second place overall behind HTC-Columbia's Maxime Monfort. Malori also took 7th place in the Criterium du Dauphine's long time trial, 3rd in the team time trial at the Settimana Coppi e Bartali and 5th at the Italian National time trial. It was a solid leap into the deep waters of the top level in 2010, and surely there will be much more to come in 2011.

VeloNation recently sat down with Adriano Malori in Rossano Veneto at the home base of the legendary bicycle company and sponsor of the Lampre team, Wilier Triestina.

VeloNation: How was your first year racing on the ProTour?

Adriano Malori: It has been a very good experience. Actually, it was amazing. I have raced some beautiful races in my first year - I raced the Tour de France, the Criterium Dauphine, the Tour de Romandie, the Eneco Tour, Paris-Tours, many of the most important races on the calendar. I'm happy with how my first year went; it was a great experience.

VN: What was your favorite race?

AM: The Tour de France. People can't say that it's only a race - it is an incredible event for all the countries and riders involved. I was amazed!

VN: When you raced the Tour, you did a lot for Petacchi. What role did you play in the leadout?

AM: Sometimes, I worked in the final 3-4 km, and other times in the first part of the stage. It depended on my condition. I had a bad crash in Stage 2 on the crazy day to Spa, so I had some problems in the first week which made it difficult to race to my full potential.

VN: How was it trying to recover from the crash?

AM: You don't have time to recover. The most difficult problem was that it was impossible to sleep. I was only able to sleep four or five hours a night, and that was hard. I felt better in the final five stages than I did the whole Tour de France, and certainly a lot better than the days following my crash.

VN: What was it like working to lead out Petacchi?

AM: I prefer to work in the first part of the stage. You have to work for a lot of kilometers, but the risk during that time is minimal. If you have to work for the last three or four kilometers, it's like a war. It's incredible. The sprinters want to be at the front, the GC guys want to be at the front, everyone wants to be at the front, and there is not space at the front for 200 riders - so it's a war.

VN: What was it like to be a part of a team that was winning stages and contending for the Green Jersey (and eventually winning it) with Petacchi? Was there a lot of good spirit in the team?

AM: There were a lot of beautiful emotions. The emotion I remember the most was the last stage in Paris when Alessandro won the Green Jersey. It was a beautiful moment for the whole team.

VN: How did you feel after the Tour de France? Were you ok physically?

AM: I continued my season after the Tour. I raced the Clasica San Sebastian, then the Eneco Tour in the Netherlands and Belgium. I was ok in the month following the Tour. I felt very, very good. In the last month of the season though, I was dead.

VN: Outside of the Tour de France, what races made an impression on you?

AM: I particularly remember the Tour of Turkey. It was a beautiful race. I think cycling has to discover more of this tour. The only problem is that the roads are like Paris-Roubaix. I remember during the stages, I always put water on my feet and hands to help with the pain from the vibrations from the roads. It was incredible.

VN: You won the U23 World Championship Time Trial in 2008 at 20 years old - have you focused on time trials for a long time?

AM: I started to focus on time trials more when I was 15. For me, at the time, it was only a joke, but then I won this TT, so I decided at that point to focus my efforts more on becoming a time trialist. Winning the World Championship time trial in Varese was the most beautiful day of my life and also a day that changed my life.

VN: What are you looking forward to in 2011?

AM: I hope to have some good results. I have another year on my contract with Lampre, so I hope to make the necessary improvements to remain a the highest level. Only the future will decide though. I continue to prepare for the time trial, because it is the specialty that I've spent a lot of time on, and continue to perform well in.

VN: What other races do you dream about winning?

AM: I dream of winning the Italian Time Trial Championships. It is a dream, but it is also a reasonable target. My big dream is winning the Tour de France, but it is impossible. I'm not the kind of rider that can win that race, so it will remain my dream.

VN: What about the cobbles? How do you like them?

AM: I hate the cobbles. I tried them for the first time this year in the Eneco Tour. On the stage that was a replica of the Tour of Flanders, we did the Oude Kwaremont twice, the Paterberg, and many more. It was very difficult for me.

VN: How do you feel about your capabilities for the Ardennes Classics?

AM: I didn't get to do the Ardennes races this spring, but I did get to race on the route of the Fleche Wallonne during the Eneco Tour. I think that type of course is better for me.

VN: So, as a rider with great time trialing ability and the capacity to get over smaller climbs, are the one week tours an option?

AM: I think the five or six day stage races are best for me. This year, I was second in the time trial and second overall in the Bayern Rundfart behind Maxime Monfort. So, I think it is a good decision for the future. I don't think the big stage races like the Tour de France or Giro are where my potential lies, but I think I can do well in the shorter races that have a time trial.

VN: What is the new relationship between Lampre, Aldo Sassi, and the Mapei Center like?

AM: I think it's a good collaboration. Recently, we were in Castellanza for three days at the center for tests. I think it can be a big help to Lampre to get more precision in our training. I think they have a good idea.

VN: Does the Mapei Center act as your coach?

AM: I have another trainer. We are not required to be coached by the Mapei Center. We can choose to work with them or work with another trainer of our own choice.

VN: When you first started training with the Lampre team, what was it like to ride with stars like Alessandro Petacchi and Damiano Cunego? Was it intimidating?

AM: No, not really. I just have a lot of respect for them. I discovered that they are good people and can be friends too. The first time though, it can be a little cold, but then you get to know them, and find out that they're good to be around.

VN: Were any teammates of particular help to you in your first year on the ProTour?

AM: Angelo Furlan and Mirco Lorenzetto were a lot of help for me. During the Tour de France, Mirco Lorenzetto was always near me and gave me advice on how to make it through the race as easily as possible.

VN: How did you get into bike racing?

AM: My first race was in April 1995. I was seven.

VN: Were your parents very supportive of you?

AM: Up until last year, they always followed my races. This year, it has been more difficult because of their work and the fact that a big part of my racing was outside of Italy. When I race in Italy or near home, they can go. If the race is out of Italy, they don't. They were in Paris though for the last stage of the Tour, because it is the big event. That was a really special day.

VN: Is your father a cyclist?

AM: No, before I started racing, if my family saw cycling on television, they changed the channel!

VN: So, how did you get into cycling?

AM: A man who sells vegetables in my city put together a team for young riders. He is a friend of my parents, so he asked them if I might be interested, then he asked me. I gave it a try, and now I'm here!

VN: When did your relationship with Wilier start?

AM: Three years ago, in 2007. When I joined my U23 team, Wilier was our bike sponsor. They've helped me a lot along the way, and since then, I've always been lucky to race on a Wilier bike. I raced a Wilier to my World Championship victory. I've been happy to ride such great bikes and to have enjoyed their support so far in my career.

VN: What does your training consist of at this point in the year?

AM: In the early winter, I jog a lot. I only use a trainer during the season when the weather is bad or it's too snowy. Mostly during the winter, I try to go jogging and swimming. In the first week of December, I get back to training on my bike.

VN: Do you try to work on anything specifically over the winter when you're training on your bike? 

AM: I do a lot of climbs, because I am not a grimpeur. To be good on the climbs and to improve, I have to climb as much as possible. Near my home I don't have any problems, because there are a lot of mountains, so every day I do my best to climb a lot.

VN: Do you normally train with power?

AM: I have a PowerTap. I trained the whole season with it. I bought it in February and used it ever since. I've been using it routinely, so I can have a compilation of all of my data for the whole year. It's a good instrument. For me, it's the best kind of powermeter because I can put it on either my time trial bike or my road bike with no difficulty. 

-- Thanks to Ashley Norris, who also contributed to this interview.

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