What's Cool In Road Cycling

Kristian Sbaragli Interview: I Feel Really Good In This Team

Kristian Sbaragli is currently in his first year as a professional with Team MTN-Qhubeka p/b Samsung. The Italian has had an excellent start to the season with five top ten results, including in WorldTour race Tirreno-Adriatico and ASO’s Tour de Picardie. We caught up with the 23 year old as he takes stock of his first few months racing against the world’s best cyclists.

How do you feel your first year in the professionals has gone?
The beginning of the season has been very good for me. I think now I know I am able to stay in the first part of the group in the end and I am able to get a top 5. I would like to get closer to a podium now or a victory. That would be nice for me in my first year but I know that this isn’t really simple but for the moment I am very happy with my results.

Building on your top five results, is the next step to learn now how to win?
For sure. I am learning all the time. These first three months I have learnt so much. My teammates are teaching me so much about the final stages of a race. Andy [Stauff] is teaching me how to get good position in the final. I also learnt so much when racing with Gerald [Ciolek] in Tirreno-Adriatico and Milano-Sanremo. Now I would like to get my first victory even though I know it’s not easy.

You’ve had five top ten results including one in WorldTour race, Tirreno-Adriatico. Did this surprise you?
Is was a bunch sprint in very bad weather. I knew the past few years that I feel really strong when the weather is bad. Compared to other riders, I always feel good when it is raining and the weather isn’t too hot. Like this last week in the Tour of Norway, there was really bad weather on one stage with full gas rain and I saw in the final I was much stronger in these bad conditions than other riders.

How big is the jump from amateur to professionals?
The jump is very big but I think with hard work like I did in the winter with the team, it’s possible to close to the gap if you are a good rider. You are able to show your power. Maybe it’s not so easy in the first year because you don’t really know the peloton that well and the speed. It’s completely different if you compare it from amateurs to professionals but I am learning.

How do you find being part of an African team?
I thought I was going to have a problem with the language but I’ve found really good people on this team. They give me everything I need and help me with whatever I need. When I went to South Africa in December for the training camp I was worried because my English isn’t perfect but everyone helped me. I feel really good in this team and the people on it.

I am really thankful for the opportunity they have given me to go for results because I know as a first year professional you usually have to ride for more experienced riders but the team has shown so much faith in me. I am really happy.

What other goals do you have for the rest of the season?
I have one week rest now in Italy then my next race will be GP Gippingen in Switzerland in the beginning of June. Then I go to the Tour of Korea from there and it will be nice for me to get a victory there.

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