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Making it without a team

12/04/2022

Despite his victory today, Matteo Malucelli is going through a rather complicated moment. He, and all his teammates of the now former Gazprom-Rusvelo. Following the outbreak of the conflict in Ukraine, the UCI has withdrawn the licence of the Russian team, which means that all its riders and staff have been de facto dismissed. And at this point in the season, it is anything but easy to find alternative arrangements or to reinvent the season.

Thus, the coach of the Italian national team Daniele Bennati has come to the rescue of the boys who have been left without a team – and a salary and any certainty whatsoever – giving them the opportunity to ride some of the events on the Italian calendar in the blue jersey. Besides Malucelli, in fact, it is no coincidence that Alessandro Fedeli, today 4th, Giovanni Carboni, Christian Scaroni and Nicola Conci are also wearing the national team jersey. These are all athletes who, until a few weeks ago, were Gazprom-Rusvelo riders.

And it is no coincidence that Malucelli’s celebration after his arrival was so fiery and so proudly praised by his teammates. These guys are literally gambling their future, as they wait to find out wether Gazprom will restart under some other guise, with new sponsors, or if some team will sign them for the rest of the season.

Malucelli is an excellent sprinter, but he also has a great head, otherwise he would certainly not have graduated in engineering. “Until 2018 I studied, alternating cycling and books, I never had time to do much else,” Malucelli said in an interview. “I graduated in Mechanical Engineering at the University of Bologna, at the Forlì campus. I did most of it as an U23, then when I turned professional, with a lot of effort, I managed to finish the exams I needed. I graduated as a mechanical engineer, so I wanted to continue with a related faculty that could give me work in the future.”

And it’s exactely for that – for its future – that this 28-year-old is fighting for, even in these troubled weeks, hoping, as he says, that the most beautiful victory of his career is yet to come.

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