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.”