Marco Pinotti (HTC-Highroad) is on the road to recovery after fracturing his hip at the Giro d'Italia but true to character, the Italian is able to see the bright side of his long spell out of the saddle.
He spent more than a month in hospital and then several weeks in bed and on crutches, before finally getting back on his bike 10 days ago. He hopes to race again, perhaps for one last time with his HTC-Highroad team before the end of the season, but knows he has to be patient so that he can return to the Giro d'Italia in 2012 with his new team.
"When you've been off the bike for a month, it takes two month to get fit again. I was off the bike for two and a half months and so I need five months to be competitive again. But I'm not ruling out anything. My determination is my best medicine," he told Gazzetta dello Sport after a short training ride near his home in Bergamo, near Milan.
"I've ridden my bike eight times so far and six of them were alone. I'm not bothered about training alone because its actually helping me listen to my body. I've got to get the my muscle tone back first of all. I've lost a centimetre and 2.5 centimeters in the circumference of my legs. I'm also having physiotherapy and will do some gym work later. It's a long process but any improvement gives you moments of happiness."
Pinotti revealed that he watched a lot of the stages of the Tour de France as he recovered from his injuries.
"The last few days were amazing but I also enjoyed the sprint stages," he said. "[Mark] Cavendish is so strong that he's in the headlines even when he loses. He's very demanding, critical but responsible and able to motivate even teammates like Velits and Martin who were going the GC."
Stunned by the demise of HTC-Highroad
Pinotti was stunned when HTC-Highroad team manager Bob Stapleton confirmed that he would close down the team after failing to secure a new sponsor. Pinotti hinted that he has a place lined up with another major team but refused to name them for now.
"It's incredible that the team with the most victories in the last four years and the highest return on its sponsor's investment can't find a new backer," he said.
Two years ago Pinotti was in talks with both Garmin and Team Sky before opting to stay with Slipstream. It is highly likely one of those team will secure his services and experience for 2012.
"I've been working on a deal with a new team but I don't want to say who it is just yet," he said.
"But I know I'm better off with an international team that has a global mentality. I want to keep learning form other people. Until a few years ago, Belgium, France, Spain and Italy dominated the sport. Now there are 20 leading cycling nations but I wouldn't write off Italian cycling. We've got the history, traditions, knowledge and passion on our side. By that I mean we put our hearts into cycling."
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Stephen is the most experienced member of the Cyclingnews team, having reported on professional cycling since 1994. He has held the position of European editor since 2012 and previously worked for Reuters, Shift Active Media, and Cycling Weekly, among other publications.