Two Italian cyclists will be on the start line for this year's Shropshire Star Newport Nocturne (Britain), which takes place on Saturday, September 10. For former Gerolsteiner pro Federico 'Fred' Morini, this year's race is one more stepping stone in his return from a bad accident. In December 2001, Morini had just completed a successful first year with Gerolsteiner, when he fell into a ravine while training in Umbria. The accident left him paralysed with severe back and leg injuries.
Experts at a Swiss neurological hospital told Morini that although he would eventually regain the use of his legs, a return to cycling was unlikely. However, weeks of physiotherapy paid off and Fred was managing to ride a few wobbly metres just two months after the accident. Unfortunately, continuing problems with his spine meant doctors were forced to rule out a return to professional cycling and Fred became manager of his teammate Davide Rebellin.
Persuaded to ride the 2003 Nocturne by his friend, Newport's Ian Holt, Morini showed that he had the potential for a return to the top level. "Freddy was in the thick of the action from the start. If his chain hadn't broken, who knows how well he might have done?" said Holt.
Nocturne co-promoter Nick Jeggo also stayed in touch, and in June visited a bike festival that Fred had organised in Tuscany. "Fred told me he'd recently had the doctors' OK to ride as a pro again and was already in talks with a ProTour team," said Jeggo. "You could tell how happy and motivated he was. When I asked him if he wanted to ride the Nocturne again he was really up for it."
Another Italian riding the Nocturne also has an interesting history. Matteo Cardellini was a talented motorcyclist who then turned to mountain bikes. Finally he decided that skinny tyres are his thing and he hasn't finished outside the top five in any road race he's ridden.