Fabio Duarte, who has just taken his first victory on European soil this season at the Italian Coppa Sabatini one-day race, is hopeful for himself and his team to continue improving next year, in view of an invitation to one of the Grand Tours. Although the Colombia Coldeportes rider admitted that the transition from racing in South America to WorldTour events in Europe hadn't been easy for some of his teammates, he was confident the squad would be "even stronger in 2013."
Speaking to Velochrono, Duarte said that bad luck had prevented him from showing his best at some of his goals this season. "I've had many disappointments this season because of my crashes at the Worlds and the Olympics. I had prepared for the Valkenburg Worlds meticulously but things didn't turn out as they should. That's why the victory at the Coppa Sabatini is special to me, after all the negative things that happened," the former U23 world champion said.
"The biggest thing to remember from this season is that I went through several difficult times but was able to score a beautiful victory at the end of the season. This return to success will be crucial to build up the base for my 2013 season."
The progression of the whole team was on the same vein, added the Colombian. He already had some experience riding European races in 2011 as he was with Geox-TMC, but most of the team's riders came from Colombia es Pasión-Café de Colombia, a Continental team. "We had some difficult moments during the first weeks because of results that were below our expectations, but we found the resources again to improve throughout the season, which has been a great collective success. I think that next year, the team will continue on that path and continue to progress. Claudio Corti's organisation is truly excellent and the experience we gained this year will enable us to become even stronger in 2013," he continued.
The team achieved six victories this season, four in Europe and two at their home race Vuelta a Colombia. Now, Colombia Coldeportes hopes that the time has come for them to prove themselves in a Grand Tour. "Our mentality and motivation will push us to fight, to obtain victories and get our spot on the Grand Tours," Duarte added.
"This team was built to participate in the Grand Tours. Since its beginning, that's been the objective. I think that one of this team's riders will show a huge performance at a Grand Tour sooner or later."
Based in Italy and with an Italian team manager, the squad naturally hopes for an invite to the Giro d'Italia. This year in May, Duarte raced the Tour of California, finishing fifth overall. "I'm always in good shape in May. It would have been nice to see what I could have done at the Giro. But I will probably get another opportunity," he continued confidently.
"Of course, we also hope that the team will get the green light for the Tour de France, and there are also the Ardennes Classics, Milan-San Remo, etc... All the great races. I hope we will get the opportunity to show ourselves there in 2013."