While Italian cycling keeps praying for a new specialist of one-day races, Marco Marcato of Vacansoleil-DCM raised some hopes by winning Paris-Tours. The result follows Enrico Gasparotto's victory at the Amstel Gold Race in April this year. Marcato, 28, is no stranger to the French classic of the falling leaves as he finished second to Greg Van Avermaet one year ago.
Marcato gave a first explanation for his newly found capacities of winning. "This year, I have taken more confidence in my potential," he said in Tours. "That's clearly evident since I got married to Elisa on September 1st. I'm more serene and quiet because of having a special person on my side. I've done a lot of sacrifices to improve my cycling. At the world championship, I've done a great race at the service of the Italian national team. All the sacrifices I've done have paid off today."
The experience in the race one year ago, which he lost in a two-man sprint, played its role too. "Last year, I kind of thought ‘well, better second than nothing', but this time I've preferred to take the risk of losing everything," he admitted.
"With three kilometers to go, I remembered and I told myself to not make the same mistake again because occasions like that to win a classic don't often occur. So I've looked at calculating everything. I knew I could win. I've learned and I've implemented the lesson. More than the sprint himself, I've learned from the previous kilometers how to save myself for the finale."
Marcato is a rider with many valuable places on his palmares, but only one victory since he joined Cycle Collstrop, the predecessor of Vacansoleil-DCM, after riding for LPR in 2007: the 2011 Tour de Vendée, where he'll defend his title on Sunday,
"I've been part of this team since it was created," he explained. "Team manager Daan Luijkx always believed in me even when my results weren't brilliant and I've improved year after year. In fact, every season I get better.
"Vacansoleil-DCM is like a family. There isn't the kind of pressure that exists in some Italian teams – I didn't say all Italian teams. The mentality is different and I don't regret my choice. I think that I'm a versatile rider and an honest one. I manage to understand when I can race to win and when it's too hard for me. In that case, I'm always available for work in favour of my teammates. I pull and lead out sprints. Long climbs aren't for me, but on a good day, I'm a rider for the classics."