Brazilian set to ride for Italian Pro Continental team Farnese Vini in 2012
It's been hard to escape the name Rafael Andriato at the Tour do Rio as the Brazilian has been the talk of the local media at his home race.
The Petroli Firenze rider claimed second on the Tour's opening stage before going one better on Stage 2. The following stage saw the 23-year-old tough it out over the final Cat. 1 climb to sit just 16 seconds off the yellow jersey of Juan Suarez with the Brazilians of the belief that he would be in the mix come Sunday's fifth and final stage.
Speaking with Cyclingnews before Stage 3 got underway on Saturday, Andriato was not backing away from the challenge either.
"It's my big goal for the back half of the season," he said. "I've never won a stage race so that would be nice to do this in my home country."
Unfortunately, Andriato was unable to make the day's breakaway and so dropped from second to 14th on general classification, drawing a line through any chance he may have had but the all-rounder has a few events left to tick off before he joins Pro Continental squad Farnese Vini for the 2012 season.
Next month Andriato will ride the GP di Poggiana in Italy where he has been plying his trade for the past three seasons and earlier in 2011 won the GP Industrie del Marmo. He will then remain on the continent to represent Brazil at the world championships before heading to South America for the Pan American Games.
Andriato believes that solid results as he finishes up with Petroli Firenze will hold him in the right stead before making the step up in 2012 and right now he's refusing to let the expectations of his compatriots carry him away. It was perhaps this reason why he chose to sign with Farnese Vini rather than some of the other offers which came his way.
"I like the idea of taking the next step with a Pro Continental team first rather than a ProTour team because it will give me more room to grow as a rider, which I don't think I would have got if I had of signed with Lampre or Liquigas," he said. "But I'm very proud to have this chance and excited to ride there next year."
Perhaps some of the excitement about Andriato's future stems from the fact that cycling isn't the norm in Brazil – a country consumed by football rather than lycra and two wheels, but his many followers crave success for him at the same time.
Asked what it's like to be a cyclist under these conditions as home, he laughs before explaining: "It's funny because they ask me the same question when I ride in Italy," he smiled. "They always tell me that I should be playing football."
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