Looking back at 2010, Cadel Evans reflects on the loss of Aldo Sassi
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Sunday, January 23, 2011

Looking back at 2010, Cadel Evans reflects on the loss of Aldo Sassi

by Jered Gruber at 3:06 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling
Australian World Champion lost a friend and coach of eight years

Cadel Evans is an enigma to many, even those close to him. With enigmatic riders though, the moments when they open up a bit are all the more rewarding. In a post on Friday to his website, cadelevans.com.au, the BMC captain looks back at the year that was, specifically to the event that will likely define the year forever for him - the death of Aldo Sassi.

"On a personal level…my coach for the last eight years, Aldo Sassi, was beaten in his battle with brain tumors."

Evans describes the immense personality, character, and fountain of knowledge that was Sassi in reverential terms.

"[He had] an incredible knowledge of nutrition, physiology, and cycling in general. In 25 years of working with riders from Francesco Moser, the entire Mapei team, to the present day's World Championship and Grand Tour winning group, he had learned a lot. His capacity of predicting performance in cyclists particularly - in any race - was remarkable."

It was public knowledge that the Italian coach had been beset by brain tumors since early in 2010, but the extent to which they destroyed and crippled the vibrant man was not common knowledge.

"Sadly, with the onset of the tumors since March of 2010, his health was in constant decline. After his return from the World Championships in Australia, his capacity to perform the most basic tasks was diminishing even more rapidly."

Evans admits that watching such an important person in his life waste away before his eyes was a difficult experience to say the least.

"To see someone's health go downhill so quickly is one thing, to see a man of amazing character and intelligence be brought down is something else again."

The Yellow Jersey wearer at this year's Tour de France seems to take a step back after that comment and imagines what Sassi might be doing now. It apparently isn't hard, as Sassi was a man passionate about all things cycling, particularly the performance side of it.

"I can only hope now that his family can recover from their suffering, and Aldo can rest in peace. Even in rest, I would not be surprised if he is still watching over us, calculating climber's outputs, VO2Max results, and insisting I need even greater volumes of threshold work."

While Sassi was without question a great coach, his lasting effect will be for many as a man who believed in clean sport. He not only believed in it, he worked hard, researched, studied, did whatever he could to find ways for his clean athletes to perform to their absolute best. It's something that the devoutly clean Evans is thankful for and only hints at the quest Sassi undertook in the sake of clean sport.

"I am very grateful to have been able to work with Aldo, but more so, to his contributions, along with the Mapei company to the clean side of cycling, and all of those who believe in it. There are only very few people who realize just how much he did for his quest to win the big races drug free."

Looking ahead to 2011, the 2009 World Champion in Mendrisio admits that the off-season is officially over and work has begun in earnest, but "not as much as some though; as the racing starts to get serious in Australia, I, like most of the guys who target anything other than the Northern Classics, was still making the most of time at home with family and friends before the string of traveling for training camps, team presentations, and races begins…"

If Evans can get just a little luck in 2011, it seems likely that we could be writing about a Grand Tour winner at the end of the year. Certainly, that would be something that would make the late Sassi smile.



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