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MILAN (VN) — Cannondale’s success with Peter Sagan came thanks to diligent recruitment and scouting. General manager Roberto Amadio said that is the team’s secret and that he has more diamonds in the rough.
“That’s our secret,” Amadio told VeloNews. “If you look, we’ve been the youngest WorldTour team for two years. It’s very significant; it shows that we invest in the young riders.”
Sports Director Stefano Zanatta discovered Sagan at the 2008 mountain bike world championships in Italy. The team signed him and allowed him to race another year in the amateur ranks and continue mountain biking before debuting the 19-year-old at the 2010 Santos Tour Down Under.
Sagan has dominated since. As reported yesterday, the Italian team may have a hard time keeping hold of him when his contract expires at the end of 2014. Fortunately, its antennas are up and collecting information on the next potential stars.
“But you don’t find a Sagan every day!” Amadio added.
“Zanatta and the others go out, follow and monitor the amateurs, the juniors … We work with the sports directors in the amateur teams so that we have a connection and see how they are progressing from 18-year-olds and onwards. We are going to keep on doing that. It’s important, and it also gives us a lot of satisfaction to see one of our picks develop and reach the top.”
Amadio referred to Roman Kreuziger and Vincenzo Nibali, both now with other teams. “Nibali joined from Fassa Bortolo, rode seven years with us and reached some big goals: won the Vuelta a España, third in the Giro d’Italia, the eighth and third at Tour de France. He won the Giro this year with Astana but he took advantage of the work and programming he did in his years with us.”
For 2014, Cannondale signed four promising talents: Slovak Matej Mohoric, who won the Under-23 world title in September, and Italians Alberto Bettiol, Davide Formolo, and Davide Villella.
“Villella already raced as a stagiaire this year. In the Tour of Colorado, he made it in some good escapes. He was third in the Coppa Sabatini and in Giro dell’Emilia – hard races with the pros – so he’s already showed a certain level of maturity,” Amadio added. “Clearly, we have to work with them like we’ve done with Nibali, Kreuziger, Sagan … all the youngsters we had.”
Those four neo-pros should come on slowly like an Italian red wine. Others should already be mature and ready for the 2014 season. Amadio named Moreno Moser, Daniele Ratto, and Damiano Caruso. “They’ve been here for three or four years,” he said. “I’m confident they’ll make the next step.”
Instead of Paolo Slongo, Sebastian Weber joins from teams Highroad and Katusha for 2014. Along with two helpers, the German sports scientist will look after Amadio’s roster. Who knows, maybe Cannondale will produce another gem from its collection.
Baden Cooke, the flamboyant Australian sprinter who won the green jersey at the 2003 Tour de France, is hanging up his cleats.
“After 14 years racing at the highest level, I am moving on,” Cooke said Wednesday in a team release. “Having the honor of finishing my career with Australia’s first own WorldTour team has been a dream, racing surrounded by my best mates has been a phenomenal experience.”
Now 35, “Cookie” turned pro in 2000 with Mercury, and enjoyed his best years at FDJ from 2002-2005. A winner of more than 50 professional races, Cooke’s best season was 2003, when he won a stage and a down-to-the-wire battle to claim the green jersey over compatriot Robbie McEwen.
His last pro win came in 2010, and he joined Orica-GreenEdge in 2012. He later raced as a road captain and helped Orica’s sprinter, Matt Goss, in the mass gallops.
“All I ever wanted in life was to race bikes professionally,” he continued. “I never thought I would have so much success and win the races that I did. I am retiring from racing at a professional level but I will continue to train and don’t be surprised to see me pop up at a local race.”
The Commonwealth Games bronze medalist and 2004 Olympian will ride a farewell criterium in his hometown of Melbourne as part of the Logie-Smith Lanyon SKCC Super Criterium on December 15.
Cooke said he would become a rider’s agent based in Monaco.
- Just checking to see who will be representing the "Show Me" state at nats this year. I may head out a little early and do the "Altitude Adjustment" race in Longmont on the Sat and Sun before. I've raced MTB out there at altitude and suffered big time. I know Boulder is not as high as what I dealt with at Leadville 100 and Granby Nats but the mountain goats will be in their backyard.
Nats in Austin, Texas next year will be interesting. I hear cross is just starting to take off down in Texas and the Midsouth. Sure enjoyed racing at Mellow Johnnies MTB race first weekend in March with short sleeves and 65-70 degrees. Of course, we thought the same about Louisville and world cross and that ended up being epic.