Current Italian national champion Giovanni Visconti (ISD-Neri) has said that he considered joining a ProTour team for 2011 as he was frustrated at missing out on the biggest events on the international calendar. The Italian eventually opted to remain with his current ISD-Neri squad, which will become Farnese-Neri next season.
“I was on the point of saying ‘enough, I’m leaving,’” Visconti told Gazzetta dello Sport. “I thought it was time to change team, to get back on the ProTour circuit and ride a calendar of more important races."
“I went through days of doubts and uncertainties, and of questions without response, until I decided to stay with ISD for another year, counting on being able to ride the races organised by RCS Sport, from Tirreno-Adriatico to the Tour of Lombardy, and obviously the Giro d’Italia.”
In 2010, Visconti and his ISD-Neri squad were overlooked for selection for the Giro and he was also forced to miss the majority of the ProTour calendar. In spite of his relative lack of top-level racing, the Italian enjoyed a fine season, taking seven victories and as many second place finishes.
For the second consecutive year, Visconti also ended the season at the top of the UCI Europe Tour rankings, an achievement he looks on with a great deal of pride.
“It’s the Europe Tour and I don’t consider it to be a Serie B (second division) title because there were big teams like BMC and Cervélo in it,” he explained.
The highlight of Visconti’s season came when he claimed his second Italian national title in June, having previously taken the tricolore jersey in 2007. “It was the end of a day when everything went perfectly,” he said. “I don’t want to seem presumptuous but I was so strong that day, I could have gone on and done another lap of the circuit.”
The biggest disappointments of Visconti’s season also came in Italy; at Tirreno-Adriatico, when he was forced to withdraw due to a sciatic nerve problem, and at the Tour of Lombardy, when he realised that he had peaked ahead of the world championships in Australia.
“I was aiming for Lombardy, but at the Giro dell’Emilia (the weekend before) I understood that I didn’t have the right form,” he said. “That’s why after the Ghisallo I tried to get ahead before the Colma di Sormano, but instead, with that cold, I abandoned, frozen like a popsicle.”
The cold should not prove a problem on the Sicilian leg of next year’s Giro d’Italia, and if his Farnese-Neri squad is invited to the race. Visconti and his national champion’s jersey will be the focus of much attention on the road to Etna. However, although he grew up in Palermo, Visconti moved to Tuscany in his teens to follow his ambitions in cycling and he confessed that he is not overly familiar with the terrain.
“I’m ashamed to say it, but I know little or nothing of Sicily, as I left Palermo when I was small,” Visconti admitted. “I visited Etna only once, on a school trip. I vaguely remember a small village and a big cloud of dust.”
Visconti will once again be the key man in Luca Scinto’s team Farnese-Neri team in 2011 and he said that he continues to enjoy the responsibilities of being team leader.
“It has never been a burden to me, but rather it motivate me,” Visconti said. “I feel like a leader. I know that a champion wins more than I have done, but the victories will come.”
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Barry Ryan is European Editor at Cyclingnews. He has covered professional cycling since 2010, reporting from the Tour de France, Giro d’Italia and events from Argentina to Japan. His writing has appeared in The Independent, Procycling and Cycling Plus. He is the author of The Ascent: Sean Kelly, Stephen Roche and the Rise of Irish Cycling’s Golden Generation (opens in new tab), published by Gill Books.