WorldTeam Stefano Oldani: “Lotto Soudal made the right choice to sign so many young riders.”
What a start to the season it has been for Stefano Oldani and Filippo Conca, the Italian duo of Lotto Soudal. Oldani played an important role in Tim Wellens’ overall victory at the Etoile de Bessèges. Afterwards, the 23-year-old Milanese went on to clinch a top ten result in an uphill sprint at the Tour de la Provence. Filippo Conca - Oldani’s roommate during the Tour de la Provence - immediately took home the mountain jersey in what was his first race in the pro ranks.
“To be honest, I didn’t have the best winter”, so begins Stefano Oldani. “The weather conditions in Italy weren’t very good at all. So my preparation was only average, and yet I was immediately up there during the first races. This obviously gives me confidence for what’s still to come.”
“My 8th place in Manosque at the Tour de la Provence made me really happy. Actually, the plan was to stay near Philippe Gilbert and launch the sprint for him, but then he got held up by that crash of Alaphilippe. So, I decided to give it a go myself and it turned out quite well, especially considering the strong field of riders. I have to admit that sprinting after such a climb was a first for me. I am hungry for more.”
Stefano Oldani, who turned pro at Lotto Soudal last year, is definitely feeling at ease with the heavily renewed and rejuvenated team.
“The past seasons have shown that a lot of young guys are immediately up there, performing at the highest level. In my opinion, Lotto Soudal made the right choice to sign so many youngsters. I already noticed their potential at the January training camp. We are all trying to learn as much as possible, it feels like I am studying at Harvard University. We learn so much from Phil, Tim and John. My bond with Philippe Gilbert is a special one and we really understand each other. He is a real champion, not only on the bike, but also as a person. During the races, I try to stay near him as long as possible. To be on the same team and to be sharing so much with him is really crazy as I have been admiring him ever since I was a little boy.”
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Stefano Oldani’s first goal of the season will be Milan-Sanremo. Not for himself, but at the service of Philippe Gilbert. Afterwards, the Giro d’Italia looms.
“I already did well at the Giro last year. I surprised myself a little by finishing inside the top ten, twice. This season, I want to do better. I am not a pure sprinter, but I am quite fast when we are heading to the finish with a smaller group and I am not shy of an uphill sprint either. At the Tour de l’Avenir, I already came in third after a three-kilometre climb, after current Team Ineos riders Hayter and Pidcock. I still have some time to mark some Giro stages. We’ll see where my chances lie.”
Picture: Photo News