Davide Formolo’s stage victory at the Giro d’Italia, his first ever win as a professional in his debut in a Grand Tour, and all at just 22, secured the Cannondale-Garmin rider a place on the front page of Wednesday’s Gazzetta dello Sport. The Italian paper went with the title of ‘Formolo Magico’ across its front page and ‘Formolo 1’ to kick off the eight pages of daily coverage.
His surname makes it easy for headline writers around the world and his stage win, the second by an Italian in this year’s Giro d’Italia, has made him an immediate household name in Italy. Italian television quickly nicknamed him ‘Formolino’, using the often-used diminutive because of his young age and baby-face looks. Formolo prefers the nickname of ‘Roccia’ (Rock), even using it for his Twitter account. School friends gave him the name as a boy because, despite being small and thin, he was as tough a rock.
Formolo’s victory on the tough stage through the Cinque Terre in the Ligurian hills was a surprise but he had already shown sign of his potential and impressed his Cannondale-Garmin teammates with his determination and self-discipline. His roommate at the Giro d’Italia, Nathan Brown revealed Formolo goes to bed at 9:30 after stages.
In 2014 Formolo finishing second behind Vincenzo Nibali in the Italian national road race championships. He also finished seventh overall in the Tour de Suisse and fourth in the Tour of Turkey. He was given a place in the Cannondale-Garmin team ahead of other more experienced riders so that he could learn for the future. With Ryder Hesjedal losing 5:25 and slipping out of contention in the general classification, Formolo has suddenly become the star of the team. His win was the first WorldTour victory for Cannondale-Garmin and ended the US-teams dry spell after injuries, illness and crashes hit their spring campaign and hopes for the Tour of California.
Like many Italian cyclists who go on turn professional, Formolo started racing when he was just six with his local team, the U.S. Ausonia Pescantina, close to his home in the Valpolicella hills near Verona, where the famous Amarone wines are made. He would stop to steal peaches from the many orchards in the area during training rides. He won his first race at 11 but needed uphill finishes to have a chance of success. His parents insisted he finished school before focusing fully on cycling and did, scoring a perfect 100 for his ‘maturita’ – his final school report. He secured a professional contract by finishing second in the mountainous 2013 Giro della Valle d’Aosta and sixth at the Tour de L’Avenir. In 2012 he finished eighth overall in the GiroBio stage race, won by current Cannondale-Garmin teammate Joe Dombrowski, with Fabio Aru taking second place.
Formolo describes himself as a climber, admitting that he is not very good at accelerating and attacking, hence his decision to attack the break early, on the flat road before the final climb in La Spezia.
“That attack – he did it all on his own,” Cannondale-Garmin directeur sportif Charly Wegelius revealed. “It was his instinct in that moment.”
“He rode with a lot of class. It’s a great result from a young rider that we know has a lot of promise. He showed that promise to the world. We are very proud.”
Gazzetta dello Sport suggested that a star has been born, with some experts wildly going as far as predicting he could finish on the podium. Fortunately, Formolo is far more level headed and mature that his baby-face look suggests.
“We’ll find out what my limits are as we go along,” he said after his victory. “I’m still only 22 years old and this is my first Giro, so I don’t really know what I can do over three weeks. I need to see how my body reacts. I mean, I actually didn’t want to expend too much energy in the first week but I found an opportunity.”
“I live day by day. I won’t put any limits on myself but I won’t put any pressure on myself either.”
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