With Team Colpack being known as one of the best development teams in the world, the squad often faces a large rider turnover at the end of every season. In 2018, this has perhaps been exaggerated, with four key riders leaving the team to go pro. Mark Padun went to the WorldTour with Bahrain-Merida, whilst Italian Pro Continental teams were queuing up to sign the remainder of the team’s big names, with Giovanni Carboni and Umberto Orsini joining Bardiani-CSF, and Filippo Zaccanti joined Nippo-Vini Fantini. Those riders, as well as a few more that have to join Italian continental teams or have aged out of the program, won a lot of races for the team. This really puts pressure on the remaining riders to step up and fill the void those names have created.
The team made a huge coup by securing Filippo Rocchetti from rival team Zalf for 2018, but they have also managed to retain both Francesco Romano and Marco Negrente for the season, who are both coincidentally born on the same day. There is certainly big pressure on those three riders to step up for the team.
Marco Negrente took some time out of his busy schedule to speak with U23 Cycling Zone, where we talked his breakthrough 2017, as well as the big season ahead and the pressure he will deal with.
“I think that the 2017 season was the best season for me since I started racing on the bike. I had a lot of satisfaction but I know that I could have done more because from the midway point in the season, I had a mental decline, even though I was fine in training.”
Marco indeed had a big season, winning a stage of the Vuelta a Bidasoa stage in Spain, as well as representing his team in the U23 Giro and taking ninth in the big U23 race in Italy, GP Palio del Recioto, which takes place close to Marco’s house. Yet his biggest result came ten days before Palio del Recioto, when he won another big U23 race, Trofeo Edil C. He talked us through the race, which is the biggest win in his career.
“Trofeo Edil C was a surprise. When I started the race I was quiet, as I was racing without pressure. From the beginning, I managed to get in the break and when I saw we had a large advantage, I started to believe. In the last laps, I had some mechanical problems but I was mentally strong, but the crash and the change of bike gave me one more push to win. I came back to the leaders and then I attacked. When I saw that Lucas Hamilton (now with Mitchelton-Scott, ed.) had caught me, I was worried. But I kept my cool and I remained concentrated for the sprint, which even though I led it out, I crossed the finish line first. It was a feeling that I had never felt before. I screamed for happiness but I was completely destroyed. I had a pain and a sense of relief that I will remember for all my life. I gave absolutely everything. A podium like this will remain me all life. It is an indescribable emotion to win.”
Negrente sees his biggest strengths not as a physical set of skills, but rather his mental qualities and the support of his Colpack team.
“My physical characteristics help me, but when I feel good and I believe in myself, as I’m very competitive. A big help comes from Team Colpack and from my family, who are close to me in every decision.”
Despite the new role as a big leader on his team this season, Marco says he doesn’t really feel any extra pressure from Colpack. However, he says he knows cycling is a results based business and if he is to achieve his dream of going pro, he must achieve results. This is the only pressure he feels.
“The team doesn’t put pressure on me, but it is in my best interest to have a good results, in order to become a pro. But there are some races that I want to win, because these are beautiful and they are very important.”
Speaking on those beautiful races that he wants to win, there is one clear race that he really desires for 2018: GP Palio del Recioto. His confidence about this race is even higher after his top ten finish last season. However, Marco does have other goals for 2018.
“Certainly I really desire GP Palio del Recioto, especially because it takes place near my home. Then, I wish to participate again at the U23 Giro and to have good results for both myself and the team, to repay this confidence they put in me.”
2017 was the first season that the U23 Giro returned to the race calendar in half a decade. Although Italy does have some big U23 stage races, like Giro Valle d’Aosta and Toscana Eroica, to go with the host of one-day races the country hosts, there is no doubt about the effect the U23 Giro will have on Italian cycling as a whole.
“I think that the Under 23 Giro is very important for Italian cycling, but also for the foreign teams that turn up to the race too. The race puts you to the test, which is fundamental in preparing you for professional stage races. The U23 Giro came back last year with a real importance not only in Italian cycling, but in the whole world of cycling.”
And when we asked Marco to answer the standard U23 Cycling Zone interview question of which pro race would he like to win, he had not only the race in his head, but the style in which he would like to win that race.
“In professional cycling, any race win would bring satisfaction, but I think that winning Il Lombardia would be a unique emotion. I remember the third victory in Lombardia of Damiano Cunego and the way in which he won it (he was the defending champion and dropped everyone on the final descent after racing an aggressive final to take a solo win, ed.). To win Lombardy like that would be a dream.”
Marco Negrente has a big weight on his shoulders, but he has the talent to deliver, and it would be very surprising to see him still racing for Team Colpack in 2019, as he is likely to be in high demand, if not from WorldTour teams then certainly from the plethora of Italian teams at the Pro Continental level. Watch out for Marco and his two teammates Rocchetti and Romano in the big Italian races this season.
U23 Cycling Zone wishes to thank Marco for answering these questions ahead of his season debut and the opening Italian one-day races in March. Thanks also to Giorgio Torre, press officer of Team Colpack, for setting up this interview. We wish Marco and the team the best of luck in the coming season.