They say first impressions count for a lot. Giuseppe Acquadro can certainly attest to that. In 2005, the Italian agent bought a plane ticket for a then 18-year-old Rigoberto Urán, and hasn’t looked back. Thirteen years on, he now represents the majority of Colombians in the WorldTour.
“The most important thing in my career, the thing that helps me now – even five or six years ago – was bringing Rigoberto Urán to Europe,” he says, recalling how he tracked the Antioquia-based rider’s results in the juniors and got hold of his number, before hatching a plan to get him into the pros at an unusually young age. “The Colombian riders talk, and when they would ask Rigoberto about me, they would hear good things.”
Sergio Henao – recommended to do so by Urán – became Acquadro’s second Colombian client and, through word of mouth, his list has snowballed to 11 of the 16 WorldTour riders, including Nairo Quintana, Esteban Chaves and Bernal. “I think I have the confidence of the Colombian riders,” he says. Acquadro is one of the sport’s leading agents, and certainly the leader when it comes to Colombians and South Americans. Another agent, Giovanni Lombardi, who married a Colombian and was a driving force behind the Oro y Paz race, represents Fernando Gaviria. Jarlinson Pantano and Darwin Atapuma are with the Swiss agent, Mattia Galli. Another who deserves a mention is Paolo Alberati, who can lay a reasonable claim to ‘discovering’ Egan Bernal and Ivan Sosa. While he still works with the latter, Bernal jumped ship to Acquadro at the start of 2017 as he prepared to break his contract with Savio and move to the WorldTour.
“I don’t so much discover the good riders. Good riders will always come through – that’s the meritocracy of results. More than discovery, it’s helping them to showcase their talent,” says Acquadro. “It’s important to build a relationship, to see if your characters are compatible, and to understand their abilities and needs in order to find the best thing for them.”
Acquadro’s track record has made him the go-to man for Colombians, so while all those years ago he had to track down Urán, now it’s often the riders who approach him. Every year he has young Colombians waving a sheet of their latest results in front of him and asking if he can help launch a career in the pro ranks.
“My responsibility is I must be able to have a good team in which to put them. I don’t want to sell this illusion of coming with me to Europe. That’s not fair.
“I follow a lot of riders who I think are very promising, but I will only come back when I have a concrete idea of how to bring them to Europe,” he says.
Quintana and Urán are two of the biggest Colombian riders Acquadro represents