A year of growth, challenges and victories

Of a season like this, the best moments remain etched: fixed in the unmistakable gesture of victory, anticipation, celebration, and the hours spent together that make a team something very much like a family. The October rain always brings a bit of melancholy, but at the same time it puts the desire to look back and take stock of the past months: to count the smiles, to count the disappointments, and to realize that it was still worth it.

The 2023 season had started full of expectations and dreams, cemented in the January retreat in Oliva that set the stage for everything that would happen next. A difficult start, complicit in the accident that compromised Vincenzo Albanese’s first months, then a steady and continuous growth that brought with it a lot of awareness and the first results such as Fortunato’s victory in the queen stage and the general classification of the Vuelta a Asturias and again, always with our Lorenzo, a beautiful Tour of The Alps in which the climber from Bologna was always the protagonist, arriving to take a fifth place in the general classification. Our season had a goal: big, beautiful and colored pink, and the approach to the race was embellished by the news of the great return of Vincenzo Albanese. Indeed, the Salerno native rider showed that he had fully recovered from his injury by taking third place in the overall classification of the Giro di Sicilia.

And then, The Giro d’Italia, to which EOLO KOMETA was invited for the third consecutive time: a special Giro, for us, which meant the debut in such an important race of Diego Sevilla, a rider born and raised in the Contador Foundation. A dream come true for him, but a huge pride for us: because there is all the meaning of our work every day. And then, our Giro d’Italia that was simply unforgettable. The days in the breakaway, the close calls with Vincenzo Albanese, the placings with Mirco Maestri and the many Top-10s won, the days in Bais’ blue jersey. And Davide Bais’s memorable victory in the stage finishing in Campo Imperatore made our Giro a masterpiece.

The season then continued, and so did the growth of a team that always chased victory in every race it participated in. We had the strength and skill, with Lorenzo Fortunato, to ride a beautiful Tour of Slovenia with sixth place in the general classification, and to find another victory at the Tour Poitou-Charentes with Samuele Rivi, who was very good at arriving alone under the storm at the finish line in La Roche. Also at the Tour Poitou-Charentes, our Mirco Maestri then took the podium in the general classification by finishing third.

The second part of the season was then made precious by the many placings that saw our guys as protagonists, with Vincenzo Albanese able to win the prestigious Trittico Lombardo thanks to a resounding second place at the Coppa Bernocchi behind a phenomenon called Vout Van Aaert.

Talking about this 2023, however, means talking about something else as well: things beyond racing and victories. It means saying goodbye to a rider like Francesco Gavazzi, who after 18 years as a pro decided to retire by saying goodbye to the peloton and embracing his new life. It means talking about a season finale that saw two youngsters like Piganzoli and Pietrobon grow up, and grow up well. And still talking about young people, it means remembering Javi Serrano’s third place in Austria or David Martin’s fifth in Belgium. It means telling about a rider like Mattia Bais who in his first year on this team won everyone over-and deserved his renewal-thanks to a fighter’s spirit and a lion’s courage that saw him go on the attack in almost every race he participated in. It means talking about Giovanni Lonardi who couldn’t find victory but always tried, throwing himself into every sprint and challenging the world’s strongest sprinters.

And now, the gaze is already turned to the future.

Fran Contador, GM EOLO KOMETA: “I believe that our season has been good. While it’s true that we had a difficult first part, it’s also true that starting with the races leading up to the Giro d’Italia the team started to ride very well: I’m thinking, for example, of the Vuelta Asturias where Fortunato did a very good result. Then we came to the Giro, which clearly was our main goal, and I must say that the team was excellent: we won ten Top-10s, we did six days in the maglia azzurra, we were often protagonists in the stages putting someone in the breakaway. And then we took a beautiful victory with Davide Bais in Campo Imperatore. I believe that for a team like ours a Giro like that was very positive, and it gave meaning to our whole season. Then we were also very good in the second half, with a constant presence in the Italian classics and an always positive attitude. Personally, I am very happy with this season that closed an important first cycle with the first three years in this category.”

Ivan Basso: “I liked the team this year, I liked them a lot especially at the Giro d’Italia and in the season finale when they were always able to ride in an orderly and brave way putting themselves in the spotlight with placings and victories. I appreciated the constant improvement of the whole team that grew and matured both in individuals and in the group. For next year we will lose two important elements such as Albanese and Fortunato, whom I thank, but I believe that precisely because of the improvement and new arrivals the level of the team for next season has grown.”