Procycling - - MINING COLUMBIAN GOLD - Giuseppe Ac­quadro

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

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