Diego Rosa says that his first season at Team Sky will all be about learning the ropes and moving forward as a rider, rather than pushing for a leadership role within the squad. Rosa joined the squad on a three-year contract after enjoying a breakthrough season in 2016 with a stage victory at the Vuelta al Pais Vasco and a hard fought second place at Il Lombardia.
Rosa's race programme with the team has been largely laid out for the whole season. His native Italy will feature heavily as he builds up to his first major goal of 2017, the Giro d'Italia, where he will look to help out team leader Mikel Landa.
"I think in this team we have a lot of big riders with these characteristics. I am a good rider but for now I am not a leader in these kinds of races." Rosa said. "It is possible to move in that direction but at the moment I go to these races to work for the team and to test myself.
"I come to Sky because for my future, I think that it is the best team for working on my condition and my results."
Il Lombardia will be another big target after he came so close to claiming victory last year, and Rosa admits that it will be an all or nothing tilt at the race victory.
"This year I will race a lot in Italy with Tirreno[-Adriatico] for the first time, which I am really happy about. I will ride Strade Bianche and afterwards Trentino and Giro d'Italia. The final part of the season, I will race the Vuelta and then in Italy," he explained. "I've never raced at Tirreno. All these years I've been looking at the race and I wanted to do it but one year I go to Paris-Nice and another year a training camp so this year I finally get to do this race.
"I will go to the Giro to help Landa and the team but the Giro is a three-week race and if you go fast then you will have a good day. It's possible that something can happen but I am going to work for the team and then we will see what happens during the race."
Rosa appears comfortable in his new surroundings, helped by the presence of a number of Italian teammates. However, the last few months have been a steep learning curve, particularly when it comes to adjusting to the new lingua franca. At Astana, he had comfort in a large group of compatriots who largely stuck together. Since joining Team Sky, Rosa has had to go on a crash course in English so that he can communicate with not just his teammates but the coaching staff.
"My wife helped me to start with but now Tim [Kerrison] helps me when we talk by speaking slower," Rosa said, before joking about what he wants to achieve most at Team Sky. "The biggest ambition is to better my English because it's really difficult for me when they talk to me on the phone. I'm look at my phone and it's like English code.
"I had no English. In Astana I was always speaking Italian. So now it's like [makes gesture like head exploding]… The next step is [Wout] Poels speaking Italian because we're on the bike and he's saying 'ah you don't speak English' and I say, 'You don't speak Italian, why don't you speak Italian?'"
Getting to grips with the approach to training has been somewhat easier but there have been a few surprises for the Italian.
"Astana was a really big team but Sky is much bigger," he explained. "It is more organised in everything, from the media day to the training. When I came to this team, they sent me a computer and when I opened it, whoa, there were all these slides for everything. It was incredible."
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