The Italian Job Market
– Reported by Gazzetta dello Sport –
One is leaving, the other staying. One is almost always with the leaders, but rarely the winner, the other can often be seen at the back, but makes up for it with impressive victories. One dreams of the queen of the stage races, the Tour de France, the other thrives on the one day classics. Ivan Basso, class of 1977, from Cassano Magnago in Varese, and the other is Danilo Di Luca, class of 1976, from Spoltore in Pescara. Different racers. In their technical characteristics, in their style of racing, and in their personalities. Also in the story of their marketing.
Ivan, after an 11th place in the 2002 and an impressive 7th in this year’s event, will need to make a breakthrough to be able to achieve the podium in Paris. And, at the same time, will need to raise his number of victories from his lackluster count of 5 (the last a the Tour of Austria in 2001). Too little for someone who wishes to leave his mark in history.
Ivan Basso has left Fassa Bortolo. When the season ends he will wave goodbye to Ferretti and Italy to head to the Danish squad CSC, with a three-year contract. The writing was already on the wall, during the Tour the air was ripe with rumors about a possible transfer to US Postal or Gerolsteiner. His new team is lead by someone who has won the Tour de France, Bjarne Riis, and is looking for a rider with the capacities to imitate the ‘Great Dane’: losing Tyler Hamilton (moving on to Phonak) and placing their trust in Basso.
Danilo Di Luca and Saeco, on the other hand, are remaining together. Next year will be the third year in red for the talented rider. And he himself admits that it will be a crucial year for his career. “I’m going to be 28 years old – Di Luca told Gazzetta dello Sport – and therefore near the peak of my maturity. I’m happy to have made this deal, it’s not easy to find a team better than Saeco. I hope to do well above all in the World Cup races, and hopefully with a chance at the final classification. But now there is still a very important part of this year 2003, which is finishing and has only been so-so. I want to prove myself as a co-leader with Paolo Bettini for the World Championships.”
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