An untimely ankle injury in November forced Italian cyclo-cross specialist Enrico Franzoi off the winter World Cup circuit and he was unable to defend his national title in his home city of Venice. Healed of all injuries and with the World Championships just days away, Franzoi spoke with Cyclingnews' Kirsten Robbins about the prospect of racing in front of 20,000 screaming fans in Treviso.
Recognised as the next generation of Italian cyclo-cross in his junior years, Enrico Franzoi found himself on the podium in nearly every international race he entered. But his career reached new heights when he beat former world 'cross champion Daniele Pontoni and Superprestige winner Luca Bramati to win his first elite national championship in 2003 whilst still under 23 years of age. That same year, Franzoi took the under 23 world championship title in Monopoli, Italy.
"I was considered the next generation after I started to win races against our country's best cyclo-cross riders," remembered Franzoi. "But, on the road I was a good rider too. I joined the national team to do the 2002 world championships in Zolder for the time trial on the road. I was a reserve on the 2004 Verona world championships on the road and also won four or five road races each year, along with my successes in cyclo-cross, these things are what helped me to turn professional and sign a contract for both disciplines."
It's hard to believe that the now 25 year-old has been involved in competitive cycling for 19 years; with two years as a junior, four years as an under 23 and an additional four years as an elite professional. "After I won the under 23 world championship in Monopoli, I started to have my first contact with a professional team," said Franzoi of his early contract with the former Saeco turned Lampre squad. "But the definitive contact to be professional was after I won the 2003 cyclo-cross national championships in Rovato. I had a verbal agreement that I would sign with Saeco in October of 2004 when I finished my under 23 years."
Click here to read the full interview with Enrico Franzoi.