Giovanni Lonardi started 2022 with a big change: after two years with Bardiani CSF Faizané is ready to face his fourth year among professionals with Eolo Kometa, a team that he admires and that has welcomed him in the best way. “The way I am, I felt I needed to change and so I threw myself into a new adventure to redeem myself” he tells allbiciweb the twenty-five year old from Valpolicella who is currently in retreat in Oliva, Spain, to prepare for the new season. There are many dreams, but also the desire to do great things, Lonardi tells us his first impressions of the new team and its goals.
How did you spend the last months of 2021?
«I stopped racing very early, my last race was the lap of Slovakia in mid-September and since then I have not put the number on my back. Throughout October I rode my bike, I tried to work as if I were still running, with practically daily workouts and outings. Only in November I put my bike aside and rested at home, this year no holidays, I took some time to think locally. I had already had the contract with Eolo Kometa in my pocket for several months and I could rest assured, but I didn’t want to be caught unprepared for the first retirement ».
You have spent the last two years with Bardiani CSF Faizané: what experience was it?
«My last two years have been very difficult, with ups and downs that have not allowed me to have consistency. In reality, after the first season as a professional with Nippo I was very unlucky: I had a two-year contract, but the team closed, I changed teams and then the covid arrived, I had several physical problems and the situation of uncertainty did not it certainly helped. The Reverberi family has now started a very specific project with very young people taken directly from the juniors, it was no longer my place. I understood that it was time to change, I needed new stimuli ».
But then came the Eolo Kometa …
«Actually, I had contact with Basso already four years ago when I had to go pro, at the time he was called Kometa Cycling Team and he was a Continental team. Moschetti and Gazzoli had chosen it, while I had preferred to go directly to Nippo which was Professional. In a short time the team has made enormous strides reaching high levels, I’m happy to find it on my way. Last season had just started when they contacted me, I was immediately happy with their interest and to have a certainty for 2022, but I was still a Bardiani rider and I tried to honor my jersey as best I could ».
What was your first impression with the new team?
«Before the end of 2021 we had a first retreat in Spain to get to know each other better and try out the new materials. The impression was immediately good, I found an excellent organization, worthy of a World Tour team: for me it was a real upgrade and I’m really happy about it. I immediately established a good relationship with all the technical staff, among the athletes for the most part we are Italian and we can speak very easily, there are also Spaniards but we understand each other without problems. Mirko Mestri arrived with me from Bardiani, I feel very comfortable with him, I also know Vincenzo Albanese with whom I raced in 2020, but also Bevilacqua, with whom I have already had the opportunity to ride ».
From the outside you can see that Eolo Kometa is a team with a precise idea, together with the business there is above all a lot of passion …
“I think that’s their strength. Eolo Kometa is a team that believes in a dream and is doing everything to make it happen, invests and achieves great results, just see Lorenzo Fortunato who has done an incredible 2021 or the Albanese himself who has become even stronger. During the first retreat I had the opportunity to meet Luca Spada, the patron of the team: he is not simply the one who puts the money or the boss of everything, he is an exceptional man who really puts passion into everything he does. She loves to ride a bike and has formed a real family, often takes off the clothes of the boss to get on the saddle, has lunch and dinner with us, we exchange a few words. He does everything with passion and this is the most important thing, in the world of cycling there is a need for people like him ».
What effect does it have to be in the team of two great champions like Ivan Basso and Alberto Contador?
«I admit it was very strange, after all I was used to seeing them on television, when I was a child they were my two myths. It was not easy to get used to this new relationship, the first time Ivan sat with us to eat it seemed like a dream, but in the days we spent together I learned to get used to it. He was a great champion who gave everything to this sport, but once he got off the bike he decided to invest his experience in working with young talents, you can admire everything he is doing ».
Can you already tell us something about your program?
“At the end of January from the retirement I will go directly to Mallorca for the first seasonal races, if all goes according to plan I hope that my first race in Italy will be the Tirreno Adriatico, where the team is aiming for one of the Wild Cards. Unfortunately in the pandemic situation in where we are, it is impossible to make plans, organize preparations for a race that may then be canceled. I was supposed to start in Argentina, but both there and in Australia the races have been canceled. We will all start from Spain, I have the feeling that the Mallorca Challenge, given the numerous cancellations, will attract many great champions ».
What is your real big seasonal goal?
«I’m not hiding, my goal is to win. Of course, I’m not aiming for the big race straight away, I just need to start doing well in a second or third tier race. I haven’t won for a while and a success would do my morale very well, I had a difficult year and the taste of victory would be fundamental to galvanize me a little, it would already be the right boost for the whole season ».
When we interviewed you three years ago, as soon as you got into pro, you confessed to us your love for the classics: has anything changed?
«After three years of professionalism it is inevitable that I have changed, I have learned to know myself better, I have understood what my limits are and how to overcome them, but I have not lost my passion for the great classics. Being at the start of the northern races is a great dream, who knows maybe one day I will succeed. The biggest dream of all, however, is Milan Sanremo, I would really like to be at the start and maybe fight for a good placement. There is still a long way to go, but the secret is to start 2022 on the right foot ».
When you don’t pedal and dream of the classics, do you allow yourself some distraction?
«I don’t have big hobbies in particular, but I am very attached to my land. My family has a winery and I help them when I can. I am in the fields and work the land, as soon as I can I jump on the tractor, let’s say that it is often a nice alternative to the bicycle ».