Moreno Moser is hoping get his career back on track with the Nippo Fantini Faizanè Professional Continental team in 2019 after several disappointing seasons at WorldTour level left him unhappy, frustrated and doubting his ability.
Moser is the nephew of Francesco Moser and has often felt the weight of expectation of the Italian tifosi on his shoulders. He turned professional in 2012 with Liquigas and immediately won five races, including the Tour of Poland. In 2013, Moser beat Peter Sagan, then a Cannondale teammate, to win Strade Bianche, sparking huge headlines and hopes in Italy.
However, the pressures of being Italy’s next great thing seemed to suffocate Moser and he gradually slipped into a domestique and bit-part roll, first at Cannondale and most recently at Astana. He has only won a stage at the Tour of Austria and the 2018 Trofeo Laigueglia – while riding for an Italian national team – since his 2013 Strade Bianche victory.
Moser is sensitive, with doubts and disappointment often undermining his own ability. He is hoping that the more supportive and less pressured atmosphere at Nippo Fantini Faizanè can help him rediscover his best form.
The Nippo Fantini Faizanè management have set Moser the simple first goal of enjoying himself more as he begins to integrate with the team at a first get together in northern Italy.
Moser admits he has simply not been happy with his career in recent years.
"How could I be?" he said during a revealing interview with Giulia De Maio on the Italian Tuttobici website.
"No matter how much passion you have for riding your bike, if you get dropped in every race its not a nice feeling. I really like training and accept the sacrifices this job requires but then, after all the hard work, you’re not at the level you hoped, going to races becomes a nightmare.
"I’m working on myself and trying to block out any external influences. The cycling world is limited in many ways. If you’re talented and aren’t successful, it automatically means you’re not training hard enough or not disciplined enough. The truth is that I’ve always been very professional but criticism almost convinced me that I was doing something wrong. While I was in the WorldTour with a big contract, I couldn’t ignore other people’s opinions. Now I’m at a point where I just want to race for myself. I want to try to be happy about what I do, without thinking about anything else."
Finding answers to the many questions
The carefully managed Nippo Fantini Faizanè won 11 races in 2018 but failed to secure a wild card invitation to the Giro d’Italia. With Damiano Cunego retiring, team leadership for 2019 falls to Moser, Marco Canola and Juan Jose Lobato. Moser will have the responsibility of a protected role but will target smaller objectives to help rebuild his morale and confidence.
"I’m really hopeful about this new adventure, changing teams is very motivating. I really needed it," Moser said.
"Saying what went wrong in recent years is not easy; I’ve often asked myself the question. If I’d found the answer, I’d perhaps be able to win the Giro d’Italia.
"There were a lot of expectations after my successful debut, people were saying I was stronger than Sagan or better than my uncle. But sport isn’t mathematical. There are a thousand factors that can impact human performance. I’m working on understanding what I get wrong each time and why I keep banging my head against the wall. People say it’s my head but its not that simple. I was on a high after winning Trofeo Laigueglia this year but then my body let me down.
Moser is hoping to find some of the often elusive days of great form in 2019.
"We’ll have to be more careful than ever with my workload. I’ve got to focus on doing what I need and what I feel. I can’t go well 300 days a year; I just need 10 good days. And, if I can win three times in those 10 days, then it’ll be a great season for me and the team," he said.