It has been a long time coming, but Italy’s Alessandro De Marchi (Cannondale) secured his first Grand Tour win in style in Friday’s Vuelta a España stage 7, soloing away to claim a lone win in Alcaudete.
The winner of the 2014 Tour’s award for Most Combative Rider, De Marchi tried his best in numerous attacks this July to get a stage victory with countless breaks. But as the 28-year-old put it in his Vuelta press conference, “Fate decided that my first victory would come here in Spain’s Grand Tour.”
Crossing the line pointing skywards repeatedly, De Marchi explained that he had done so because he dedicated the victory to legendary Italian national trainer Alfredo Martini, who died recently.
“He was a very important person for Italian cycling, and although I never met him, I had heard lots about him and I wish I had got to know him better. When I got to the last kilometre, I thought about it and decided it was only right for the first victory for an Italian in the Vuelta a España to be dedicated to him.”
He said he had lost count of the number of times that he had tried to win from breaks and had ended up missing out. “Something was always lacking. This time it went perfectly.”
The winner of a Dauphiné stage last year and the King of the Mountains prize in the same race this summer, De Marchi said he had attacked because he had “been worried that I wouldn’t get it if I waited. I looked at the route and decided that that rolling uphill finish was suited for me.
“My only regret is that [fellow breakaway] Ryder Hesjedal couldn’t be with me to fight it out for the stage. I’m really sorry he had that fall.
“He and I had been the ones working the hardest in the break and we’d decided to go for it together. I even waited for him a little after he’d crashed to see if he’d come back, but there came a moment where I absolutely had to go for it.”
Keeping a cool head with so much at stake - De Marchi has only had two wins in his profesional career prior to Friday - was crucial. Knowing that he already has a place signed with BMC for 2015 following Cannondale’s fustion with Garmin was he said, “something that makes it easier to handle. You race more calmly and in a sport like cycling, which is so unpredictable, that’s important.”
Asked whether winning a Vuelta stage or getting to go on the final podium of the Tour as the race’s most aggressive rider was more significant, De Marchi answered, “Going onto the podium felt like a victory, but a solo win in a Grand Tour is important for me and my team, too. They’re both on the same level.”