Other than Matt Goss and Mark Cavendish crashing prior to the final sprint of stage 9 at the Giro d'Italia, the enduring image from Frosinone – where Baden Cooke was closed down by Paolo Bettini during the last visit of the corsa rosa seven years ago – was the one of Fabio Felline hammering his handlebar with his right fist. The 22-year-old from Turin was not impressed after coming second to Francisco Ventoso in the crash-marred finale.
"It's not a bad result to be second in a stage of the Giro d'Italia in my first participation, but it's still frustrating to come so close to the win", Felline told Cyclingnews on the finish line. "We always want the maximum result but okay - second is better than nothing."
Androni Giocattoli team manager Gianni Savio suggested: "History is not made of 'if' or 'but', however, had the finishing line been drawn 20 metres further, I believe that Fabio would have won it.
"We're happy with the result though. It confirms – if needed for some people but not for us – that he has a great talent. It's nice to see him expressing his disappointment with his fist after the line. It shows his determination to succeed. I'm convinced that he'll become a great champion. We want to make him improve slowly but surely."
Felline is on a two-year contract with Androni Giocattoli after the dismissal of his former team named successively Footon-Servetto and Geox-TMC. Under Mauro Gianetti, he started the Tour de France at the age of 20 in Rotterdam in 2010 but withdrew the day after crashing on stage 8. Before starting in the Giro d'Italia, he won the Giro del Appennino, so it's not surprising that he's got good form.
After all those years of breeding South American climbers, it's Savio's dream to help develop a rider from his home town, Turin.
"As much as it was the case with Miguel Angel Rubiano who won three days after we took him from nowhere, there's a human aspect in supporting Felline," Savio said. "It's different though. No one was interested in signing Rubiano but Felline would have found a team no matter what."
Felline expressed another regret after the stage: "Maybe I shouldn't have reacted behind Joaquim Rodriguez after he attacked on the last climb," said the Piedmontese. Savio agreed but noted with great hopes for his protégé's future that "experience is the addition of the mistakes."
"He might have other occasions to try and go for a stage win," 'the Prince' added.
Felline has one more dream for this year after the Giro d'Italia: he wants to conquer a spot on the Italian national team for the London Olympics. "It's very difficult but not impossible", he told Tuttosport earlier this year.
"The course of the road race will suit versatile riders. In 2006, I was a torch-bearer for the winter Olympics in my home town of Turin. Running with the torch in my hands has made me realize how big the Olympics are. When I did it, I imagined myself on the podium with a medal."
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