In Flanders, cycling is sacred. For every road, there is a bike route running right alongside it. So, what better tribute to this region's culture of cycling than the Tour of Flanders?
It’s hard to maintain concentration in two competitive seasons like 2020 and 2021. Both utterly anomalous, with postponements and cancellations. The same fate suffered by road cycling.
Like the Paris–Roubaix, even the most important offroad event – the Absa Cape Epic in South Africa – was cancelled in 2020 and rescheduled for autumn 2021, generating widespread bewilderment among organisers and, most of all, among professional riders. Great uncertainty that only experience can manage.
The fact that Johnny Cattaneo is still leading Team Wilier 7C Force is the guarantee that the repercussions of the two most incredible years in recent history have, in some way, been mitigated. The calm and determination felt during the training camp held in the Ligurian city of Albenga are mainly linked to the character of the Bergamo-born rider, someone who can truly say to have seen it all throughout his career.
“In 2017, the Italian Championship and the World Championship were coming up in close succession, and I was really focused on my training. But just before the two most important races of the season, I suffered from a kidney stone. I had to drop out and the entire second half of the year had to be immediately reinvented. But, then again, the life of an athlete is exposed to so many variables that you have to be able to quickly adapt to all sorts of inconveniences”.
The benefits of the calmness and concentration gained by the team Team Wilier 7C Force during the two weeks spent in Albenga manifested themselves at the start of the season, during the Spanish stages. Martino Tronconi, Enrico Loss and Nicola Taffarel all obtained major results in both the Mediterranean Epic and the Volcat BTT, and not just for the experience they acquired.
For his part, Johnny Cattaneo made clear what his intentions were in the Orvieto Wine Marathon, at the beginning of March, 2021. Fourth place in one of the first races of the season, just behind some of the world’s top specialists, is definitely an attention-grabber for a race year that will culminate with the Marathon World Championships on 2 October, 2021, which will be held at Monte Calamita in Capoliveri, on Elba.
“Regardless of my age, I want to continue competing as long as I can keep up with the best and achieve outstanding results. Once that stops, even if I’ll always love this sport and everything about it, I will abandon competitive racing. However, so long as I can maintain a less than two-minute gap between me and the reigning world champion, Leonardo Paez, even after two hours of racing, like I did in Orvieto, I don’t think I need to worry about that just yet”.
Words that once again reveal great lucidity combined with what is now legendary agelessness.
THE BIKE OF THIS ARTICLE
URTA SLR – BLACK MATT
URTA SLR is at the height of Wilier Triestina’s evolution in the mountain bike sector. A top-tier bike made to provide a more technical and leading-edge cross country cycling experience. The frame has been designed to reach extremely high levels of traction and stability. Thanks to its reliability and efficiency, it is the best solution for those who strive for top performance on XCO/XCM courses.