The dream of Team Sky management to attract Mark Cavendish remains alive but they do have contingency plans in place. Up-and-coming Italian fast man Davide Appollonio adds another layer to Sky’s already overflowing sprint ranks. Appollonio, a native of the Molise region, finished fifth in stage 10 of the Giro d’Italia and his result is impressive for someone riding their first Giro d'Italia.
"To have four places in the top ten of my first Giro isn’t bad at all", he told Cyclingnews after stage 10.
"Today I managed to take Cavendish’s wheel but I need more experience to compete against him really", Appollonio said. "I hesitated for a little while and Ventoso took my place. But I was happy thinking that it’s good to be regularly in the top positions of the sprints."
'AppoJet' - a nickname he got in reference to "AleJet" Petacchi in the U17 category - is from the generation of Andrea Guardini (both born in 1989). While the Giro was considered too hard for Guardini, Team Sky opted to give Appollonio his first start at a Grand Tour.
Sporting Director Nicholas Portal described Appollonio’s hunger for racing as a really positive thing to see from a youngster.
"The good thing with Davide is that he’s never happy with himself", Portal said.
"He always seems disappointed because of not winning but we tell him, ‘hey, look who is ahead of you, you have time.’ We also remind him of his age. He’s only 21! He’s got everything to become a great rider. He has a good mentality and he’s humble. His spirit will take him high in cycling."
Portal sees Appollonio as a challenger for the best sprinters in a near future.
"He’s explosive and strong in the hills. Uphill finishes will become his forte", predicted the Frenchman.
A stage winner at the Tour du Limousin in his pro debut with Cervélo at the age of just 20 last year, Appollonio might well be the star in the making that the British team has been looking for to match their commercial interests in Italy. Perhaps with the rise of Ben Swift in 2011 as well as Appollonio, Sky will turn their focus away from Cavendish, and instead look to build a dynasty with their younger stars.
The Giro d’Italia continues with the 142km 11th stage from Tortoreto to Castelfidardo.