Procycling - - Prologue -

Meet a young Ital­ian in a hurry. Twenty-year-old Vin­cenzo Al­banese comes from Oliveto Ci­tra in south­ern Italy and has proven one of the best of the coun­try’s am­a­teurs this year. So much so that he’s turn­ing pro­fes­sional a year ahead of sched­ule. What has been his high­light so far? That would be win­ning the Tro­feo Mat­teoti in July – his first pro­fes­sional race vic­tory. The 1.1 race on the Adri­atic coast has an im­pres­sive win­ners’ list, in­clud­ing Filippo Poz­zato and Paolo Bet­tini in 2007 and 2008 re­spec­tively, and fur­ther back Francesco Moser and Gianni Bugno. Just as re­mark­able was the man­ner in which Al­banese did it: an at­tack from a small lead group in­side the last kilo­me­tre and boost­ing past a lone es­capee, Iuri Filosi, with 300m to go. In essence it was the per­fect coup de finis­seur. “I was happy just to be here, let alone fin­ish first,” he said at the line. And…? He also eas­ily won the open­ing stage of the Tour de l’Avenir from a five-man group and went on to take the points jer­sey. He fin­ished his year with a solo win in the Ruota d’Oro, an­other big U23 race in Italy. All told, eight wins, six UCI-ranked, bode well for his fu­ture in the pro ranks, though he’s al­ready ad­mit­ted he’ll have to ad­just his sights and knuckle down as a learner. And what type of rider is he? He’s fairly stocky in stature and so far has shown de­cent fa­cil­ity in small group sprints. He’s quite clearly an as­tute reader of races, too. And where is he off to in 2017? If there were an Ital­ian pres­ence in the WorldTour in 2017, he would have been a first-rank can­di­date, surely. But in­stead, Bruno Re­ver­beri’s ProCon­ti­nen­tal Bar­diani-CSF got the young­ster to put pen to pa­per in Au­gust. The team has a habit of pluck­ing the most eager young­sters out of the ama­teur ranks.

A ProConti con­tract is still a big deal for the young­ster who has re­lo­cated to Florence from the south. “The idea of mak­ing the jump af­ter only two sea­sons of un­der-23 does not scare me be­cause I know how to per­form,” Al­banese said af­ter sign­ing the con­tract. “I raced and won among pro­fes­sion­als and this gives me the feel­ing that I’m ready.”

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