Davide Formolo is starting his second season on the WorldTour but he is already widely regarded as one of the sport’s top future climbers. Cyclingnews caught up with the 22-year-old at the Cannondale-Garmin team launch in New York City in January where he spoke about his new start under Jonathan Vaughters’ team, his dream of winning the Giro d’Italia, and getting to know his idol and new teammate Ryder Hesjedal.
Formolo had already visited New York for 10 days earlier in the off-season with his girlfriend. The pair roamed the city as tourists taking in the sights from the Empire State Building and visiting Times Square, Ground Zero and Central Park.
This time around, he flew in for only a couple of days to meet his newly-merged Cannondale-Garmin team sponsors, help unveil the team’s new green-argyle jersey at an upscale party in the Meatpacking District, and to speak with a few members of the press.
Formolo has signed a one-year contract with the American outfit that will take him through the end of the 2015 season. The team isn’t entirely new to him, however, because he made his debut onto the WorldTour last year with the former Italian-registered team Cannondale.
“When I knew Garmin and Cannondale would be one team I was happy,” Formolo said. “I knew it would be a good experience and I knew it would be good for my future.
“I’m very excited to be on this team. I get to learn a new language, be a part of a new team and a new experience… it’s all new. When things are new, you need to do everything you can to be better, to be your best; improve power, condition and yourself. You must start good and continue to improve throughout the season.”
Formolo, a native of the Veneto region in Italy, followed in the footsteps of his older brother and started racing bikes when he was eight. Although his brother has since stopped competing, Formolo’s career has only recently taken off, thanks to a series of strong results as an under-23 rider, which included a second overall at the Giro Ciclistico della Valle d’Aosta Mont Blanc in 2013 and eighth overall at the Baby Giro in 2012.
It was no surprise to see him pull together strong performances with Cannondale last year as a neo-pro, especially when he climbed into seventh overall at the Tour de Suisse after taking eighth place in stage 8 on the Alpine climb to Verbier and 12th on the stage 9 finale in Saas-Fee.
“I was so happy with that race and for my head it was incredible,” Formolo said. He was also fourth overall at the Presidential Cycling Tour of Turkey, second at the GP Industria & Artigianato and sixth at the Giro dell’Emilia.
This year, Formolo will follow a similar schedule as his teammate Dan Martin and both riders will start their season at the upcoming Mallorca Challenge (January 29-February 1), where he hopes to impress his new team and build toward a strong over all season.
“This is a new experience for me,” Formolo said. “In Italy, we say that if you start the season well, you’ve done half of your job. If you start well, it is easier to continue to improve and then stay ahead. But if you don’t start well, you will always be trying to catch up… and you never really catch up. I want to start my season well and improve at every race after that.”
Italian hopes for Giro start in 2015
Formolo is aiming to put his best foot forward at the start of the season in hopes that it will lead to a debut at a Grand Tour. Although he would be happy to start any of the three, racing the Giro d’Italia would be a dream come true.
“I want to do one Grand Tour, any of them,” Formolo said. “Of course, racing in the Giro d’Italia would be a dream. In Italy, when I was six years old, I was watching the Giro on TV and I always imagined myself in the peloton.
“I would like to race the Giro, but if it doesn’t happen this year, it might happen next year, in two or three years, it’s no problem. If I do race one, I want to be good, not just do the race with uncertainty. But if I have good power, then I want to do that race, and do it well.”
He believes that the experience he would gain from competing in a Grand Tour this year, while he is still young, would help him grow into the future Grand Tour contender that he hopes to become.
“I’m working hard now so that I am a leader in the future,” he said. “I am young and I want to be quiet now, continue to work hard, and I will see what the future brings me. If I work hard every day and I improve every day, maybe I can be in the top 10, maybe on the podium, maybe I can win… or maybe nothing, but if I work hard and concentrate, I think I can be at the front.”
When asked if he sees himself winning the Giro d’Italia during this career, Formolo said, “Yes, for sure.”
Although he has set the bar high, he is also realistic about what he needs to work on in order to attain his Grand Tour goals. He believes that he can be one of the best climbers in the world but pointed to the time trial as his biggest shortcoming, and something that he needs to improve if he wants to be an overall contender.
“I am the kind of rider who is meant for the GC,” Formolo said. “The time trial is a very important discipline for riders who are going for the GC. You could see that in the Giro d’Italia last year where there were 60km of time trials. If you are good, you can take a few minutes from the other racers in a time trial.
“To take three minutes on a climb is very difficult, you need to be so much more powerful than the other racers. It is very important for me to improve my time trial skills this year if I want to be a good GC rider. I ride my time trial bike every day for at least one hour.”
Learning from Hesjedal, Martin and Talansky
The merge between Cannondale and Garmin-Sharp gave Formolo a new set of riders from which to draw Grand Tour experience. He will play a support role for Il Lombardia winner and Vuelta a España contender Dan Martin, Critérium du Dauphiné winner Andrew Talansky and 2012 Giro d’Italia winner Ryder Hesjedal, and he plans to soak up any advice that his mentors have to offer.
“Ryder Hesjedal is my favourite racer of the Giro d’Italia winners,” Formolo said. “He was my idol two years ago, and he still is, but I remember when he won, I was in front of the TV thinking how amazing he was.
“Now that I am here, we spoke and he told me, ‘Don’t worry, you’re young. I saw you race last year and you’re a good rider. Don’t worry, you will be a winner of the Giro d’Italia.’”
Formolo also draws on his own experiences and successes. He remember back to the Tour de Suisse where he was able to stay with the select group into Heiden, and with the top climbers into Verbier and Saas-Fee.
He also recounted the Italian National Championships, where he placed second to Vincenco Nibali in a two-up sprint, after the pair entered a late-race breakaway together on the way to the finish line in Malé.
“Last year, I did the National Championships, and me and Nibali were alone at the front together,” Formolo remembered. “One week later, he goes on to the Tour de France and then he ends up winning it… the biggest race in the world. It’s easy to imagine that if I work hard, feel well and am happy with my job, that I can do that too.”