Danilo Di Luca (Katusha) intends to remain in the cycling world once he calls a halt to his career. Despite riding the Giro d’Italia in a low-key manner, his ambitions as a rider are far from over, and he plans to ride the Vuelta a España at a higher level than the Giro.
“Yes, I have thought of what to do after my cycling career,” Di Luca told Cyclingnews on the start line of stage 19 of the Giro d’Italia in Bergamo. “In any case, I want to remain in the world of cycling. I’m already a bike manufacturer.”
At last year’s Eurobike in Friedrichshafen, the winner of the 2007 Giro d’Italia launched his own bike brand named Kyklos, a Greek word that means “cycle” with a political sense. In his town of Pescara, he is said to have invested two million euro in the 400 square metre bike shop he opened after using his knowledge as a designer – a job for which he studied – and as an architect – his brother’s profession.
While many observers can easily imagine Di Luca in the role of directeur sportif as he is an expert when it comes to reading the race in advance and analysing facts and figures in the bunch, he sees his future slightly differently: “It’s true that I’d like to have my own team but I don’t want to become a directeur sportif, I see myself in the role of team manager.”
Di Luca started bringing sponsors into professional cycling by making the connection for Farnese Vini – a wine producer from his region of Abbruzzo – to become a co-sponsor of LPR, his team in 2009, and later of Lampre, the team that he was rumoured to join for the 2010 season until he got banned.
Farnese Vini is now the title sponsor of the team managed by Angelo Citracca and directed by Luca Scinto, who has picked as one of his assistants multiple Giro d’Italia stage winner Stefano Giuliani, who is Di Luca’s father-in-law.
“I haven’t completely decided when I’ll quit racing but I intend to ride for another three or four years,” Di Luca told Cyclingnews. He made his comeback at the Giro as a lieutenant for Joaquim Rodriguez, who hasn’t performed as well as he wanted but remains in contention for a top ten overall in Milan.
“I keep riding better and better every day,” said Di Luca, who warned at the beginning of the race that he was only at 80% of the level he had when he contested the Giro for the win.
“I might have done too many efforts at the beginning of the Giro but as I said before, the Vuelta is my main goal for this year,” he said. “But it’s too early to figure out if I’ll be able to ride for GC or not.”
Di Luca is trying to follow the path of Ivan Basso, with a discreet comeback and graduated ambitions and he was very active at the head of the bunch during stage 19 when Katusha decided to race the pace a notch before the uphill finish of Mucagnaga.