Ivan Santaromita has won just three races during his eight-year career and so was overjoyed to pull on the Italian 'tricolore' jersey after winning the Italian road race title in Trentino on Saturday.
The likeable 29 year-old from Varese tweeted a photo of the red, white and green jersey after waking up on Sunday morning, writing: "So it's true!!! You should never stop chasing your dreams! Thanks for all the congratulations."
Many in Italian cycling were pleased that he had managed to beat former dopers Davide Rebellin and Michele Scarponi after forcing the decisive move clear on the hilly circuit in the Val di Non apple orchards of Trentino. The BMC rider had just teammate Alessandro Ballan to help him in the race but they outwitted the likes of Lampre-Merida, Cannondale and Vini Santini-Selle Italia who had big teams and high hopes for the race.
Giorgio Squinzi, the owner of the Mapei company and the Mapei cycling team, called Santaromita just after he pulled on the 'tricolore', telling Gazzetta dello Sport: "What good news! It's great news for Italian cycling. He's a guy with a clean face who isn't embarrassed about his past."
Santaromita is coached by Andrea Morelli at the Centro Mapei training centre, not far from Varese. According to Gazzetta dello Sport, Santaromita is set to ride for Orica-GreenEdge in 2014.
He celebrated his win with his fiancée and family, describing it as the best day of his life.
"I targeted the nationals. It's always been a special race for me even if lots of riders don't feel the same (only 73 of the 165 Italian professional licence holders started the race). I always try and peak for it and do my best: I was second in 2010, seventh in 2011. I've always been up there. This time I was 100% sure I could do well, perhaps thanks to winning the stage at the Giro del Trentino, that made me more convinced of my ability."
Targeting the Vuelta
Santaromita beat Paolo Tiralongo (Astana) and Scarponi to win a stage three of the Giro del Trentino in late April. His only other career win is at the 2010 Settimana Internazionale di Coppi e Bartali. He won overall after his Liquigas team also won the team time trial. A good climber and consistent in a stage races, he now has his eye on a place in the Italian team for the world championships in Florence and perhaps a shot at a good placing in a Grand Tour. He is not part of the BMC team for the Tour de France but is set to ride the Vuelta Espana. In May he helped Cadel Evans finish third overall at the Giro d'Italia.
"I'm available. If (Italian national coach) Bettini gives me a call, I'll be ready. The Florence course is as I like them: hard and now I've shown I do okay," he told Gazzetta.
"I hope to do well overall in a Grand Tour one day. I think I can do something. If I hadn't crashed in Matera at this year's Giro d'Italia who knows what I could have done."
"Ivan's a good climber and with the way cycling is moving, I'm sure he can do well. His threshold values are very high, above 6.0 w/kg. We'll see what he can do at the Vuelta."