Michele Bartoli gives his verdict on 24-year-old Italian Diego Ulissi, who is considering options for his future
Diego Ulissi is pushing the limits to understand how far he can go in cycling. After his second Giro d’Italia stage win yesterday to Montecopiolo, he wants to test himself for the Ardennes Classics and the overall classification in Grand Tours.
“My win in Viggiano was like a classic, I understood what’s possible for me,” 24-year-old Ulissi said. “I still suffer on the long and hard climbs. In a few years, I could try for the classification in a grand tour.”
Team Lampre’s Ulissi won the mountain-top finish yesterday to Montecopiolo ahead of Robert Kiserlovski. To do so, he left behind overall favourite Rigoberto Urán, Nairo Quintana and the Giro’s new race leader, Cadel Evans.
The stage was his second win, following the one to Viggiano where he survived rain showers, cold weather and shot ahead of Joaquím Rodríguez and Evans.
“He had two occasions to win and won both times,” Michele Bartoli told Cycling Weekly. “If not for the rain and crashes on the stage to Montecassino, he might have had three wins.”
Bartoli won several classics in the late 1990s and early 2000s, including Liège-Bastogne-Liège and the Tour of Flanders. Since 2013, Lampre hired him to help train some of its cyclists.
“I’m trying to give him my experience that I’ve gained in my years, to help him and the others in Lampre to grow,” he said.
“We thought Diego could do well before the Giro. We even thought of the maglia rosa if the team time trial in Belfast went a little better. We were ambitious in the first 10 days the first week.”
Lampre planned to race the overall with Chris Horner, but a training crash ruled last year’s Vuelta a España out. It instead hoped for Przemyslaw Niemec and Damiano Cunego, who have both suffered from crashes in the Giro. Ulissi, however, has given Lampre plenty reason to smile.
Ulissi won two road race world titles as a junior. Since 2010, he has progressed well with team Lampre. This year, though, has been his best so far with four big wins: a Tour Down Under stage, the GP Camaiore one-day classic and two stages in the Giro.
After the Giro, he will back off, race the Vuelta a España and aim for the Worlds in Ponferrada, Spain. Bartoli explained that this Giro would help him start to understand himself.
“Diego can do well in both the Grand tours and classics, but he needs time to mature. He first has to understand what he wants to do. He goes well on the climbs, he can recover well… Remember last year, he placed second behind Rodríguez in one of the last mountain stages at the Vuelta. He’s shown that he has a good recovery. He’s complete.”