Matteo Tosatto says that he's all but retired after failing to find a contract for the 2017 season. Tosatto has been racing with the Tinkoff team since 2011 but, like his teammates, had to go on the hunt for a new team after team owner Oleg Tinkov chose to leave the sport.
As recently as last month, Tosatto said that he was still in talks with WorldTour teams. He had hoped he would find a new deal and believes that he could still compete at the top level, but has now resigned himself to being without a squad for next season.
"I'm not here to beg for another contract. I am convinced that I could do a high-level season, like the one that just ended. But I am serene. Mentally I have begun to detach myself," he told Gazzetta della Sport.
At Tinkoff, the Italian was an invaluable member of Alberto Contador's Grand Tour squad. He memorably sprang into action on stage 13 of the 2015 Giro d'Italia, running through the aftermath of a crash in order supply his stricken leader with a replacement bike. His action, no doubt, kept Contador's hopes alive and the Spaniard would go on to win the Giro d'Italia. Tosatto says that Contador had hinted at bringing him across to Trek-Segafredo but in the end that did not happen.
"But then it has not materialised, and I did not understand why," he said. "Yes, Albert had hinted that he would take me with him, but if I had known it before [that it wouldn't happen] I would have moved in time, and I think I would have found a top-level team."
For the past two seasons, Tosatto has enjoyed the honour of being the oldest rider in the WorldTour, an honour that will pass onto Haimar Zubeldia. The 42-year-old has some 20 seasons of experience behind him after turning professional as a wide-eyed 23-year-old in 1997. In that time, he has raced at least one Grand Tour – and more often than not two – in all but one season, and completed both the Giro d'Italia and Tour de France this year. Speaking to Gazzetta, Tosatto pointed out his impressive record.
"I have participated in 34 Grand Tours: 13 Giri d'Italia, 12 Tours de France, 9 Vuelta. It's a record. And the eight World Championships in the national squad, which I attended, four ended with the victory of an Italian. [Mario] Cipollini at Zolder, the two [Paolo] Bettini, [Alessandro] Ballan in Varese. I think it is also a record that …"