Cesare Benedetti, an Italian cyclist from the Trentino region (Rovereto), is currently in force at the Bora-Hansgrohe, a team where also plays the former world champion Peter Sagan. His career in cycling began as an intern at Liquigas (2019), but it was in 2010 that he officially switched to professionalism thanks to the contract with the current Bora-Hansgrohe (the old NetApp). Since then, about 9 years have passed and Cesare has never changed team, participating at 3 Giro d’Italia, 1 Tour de France, 2 Vuelta Espana, 5 Milano-Sanremo, 5 Liege-Bastogne-Liegie, 4 Giro di Lombardia. Among the most important results there are a “Best Climber” Jersey at the Tirreno-Adriatico 2016, a 14th place at the “Giro di Lombardia” and a stage victory at the “Giro del Trentino” 2015 (team time trial). Over the years, the role of the italian cyclist has changed from a striker, who loves the climbs, to a pure domestique to help the Slovak champion Peter Sagan; in any case the passion and professionalism have never failed.
Cesare Benedetti here for Km Zero Cycling, in the following interview:
Let’s start with a question about your team, the Bora-Hansgrohe. What distinguishes a World Tour team, like yours, from all the others?
“To be honest, I don’t know, I’ve never been with any other team to be able to make a concrete comparison. It is a team that has started small to get up to third place in the World Tour in 2018. Most of the World Tour teams joined the first time with big sponsors in the Serie A of cycling, we got there a bit at a time. We have a sponsor like Bora who is first of all a great cycling enthusiast and practitioner, in modernity he is a bit of an old-fashioned sponsor if you like. Just like the Spinazzè Group, a Treviso-based company that sponsors us; they are people who not only show their brand, but also want us to be present and to have a direct relationship with the runners and also with the staff. You can see the difference between pure business and a passion for cycling.”
You’ve been with the Bora-Hansgrohe for a few years now. How are you and your mates doing? Who impresses you the most in training?
The 2019 will be my tenth season in this team, which over the years has sometimes changed the main sponsor and consequently also the denomination. From the first season we remained in three riders, besides me Schillinger and Schwarzmann. You can’t go with love and agreement with everyone but I don’t have big problems with anyone on the team. Fortunately, we don’t have any phenomena in training, everyone thinks about their own and does what they have to do. This year we only had one winter training camp all together but we were divided into three groups, so for two weeks I always trained with the same groups. I will probably only see some of the others at the next retirement for the 2020 season, as we will have distinctly different calendars.
In 2018 you had a very busy calendar of important races (Milan-Sanremo; Amstel, Liege, Giro d’Italia, Tour of Poland, Lombardy, etc.). What was the race/stage in which you found yourself most in difficulty and why?
“I think that the hardest day of 2018 was the stage of the Giro won by Mohoric, the Penne Gualdo-Tadino. Theoretically it was certainly not a dolomitic stage, but thanks to the fact I was not very well and that it was a very tight stage (you remember Chaves in difficulty) it was a rather black day for me. ”
What are the fundamental aspects to prepare in the best way a Grand Tour race like the Giro d’Italia? What changes in preparation compared to a Classic?
“Honestly, I’ve never had time to specifically prepare for a big stage race. I’ve always raced a lot before the Giro, starting in January and going through the stage races in March and the Ardennes classics in April, I’ve never had the opportunity to train only for the Giro. This year I should be more relaxed before the pink race, getting there with more training uphill and getting there with less days of racing and then a bit ‘cooler.
Let’s take a step back. How did you get involved in cycling and when did you realize that cycling would become your job?
“I decided to start racing in 1999 when I visited a stage of the Giro d’Italia. In particular, I was at the starting village of the sad stage of Madonna di Campiglio. A friend of the family worked in the caravan and gave me passes for the village. Despite the story of Pantani that day, I liked the atmosphere among the cyclists and so I decided to try. I have always ran because I wanted to get there, in that village of departure, as a pro-cyclist and not as a spectator, it was an idea that always accompanied me. Then as juniors I decided that I had to try 100%, this is also thanks to the meetings with Dario Broccardo who always repeated that that was a critical age because we were at the end of school, we approached the world of work and even on the bike you had to start to behave seriously, you had to make choices. ”
When you were younger, what were your idols in cycling? Who inspired you and why?
“The first years in which I ran, I have grown with the myth of Gilberto Simoni, my fellow countryman, who in three years has won two Giro D’Italia. Honestly, I’ve never had a real idol, I’ve always tried to be inspired maybe by smaller corridors but with which I could have a direct confrontation. If I had to think about it now, however, I would make names like Rebellin, Zabel and Vinokurov, examples of dedication, seriousness and great discipline.
What do you think about doping in the cycling world and in sport in general at the moment?
“In sport in general I don’t know, I can’t comment on things I don’t know about. In cycling the controls are many and targeted and with the “whereabouts” system we are always obliged to update our movements on an internet platform. I can say that there has been a change of mentality, and I am talking about Germany in particular. My German peers and the whole population in general have been very upset by the Telekom and Gerolsteiner cases, in their words there is always a lot of repulsion for those facts and for different people, they don’t want to have anything to do with that mentality and they have turned the page.
Last question, to conclude. When you get-off of your bike, after an intense race or a full season, do you have other hobbies? If so, which ones and how do you grow them?
“This is a lack of me. I don’t have anything I really like other than the bike and I have a hard time unplugging it. After an intense race a bike ride with a nice coffee break and we think about the next race. After a season of walking in the mountains that I can’t enjoy during the season because of the training and the competitions.
Thank you very much again and good luck for the new season that is about to begin. We’ll be waiting for you at the Giro d’Italia!
“Blow up the wolf and thank you for the space dedicated to me, a greeting to the readers and we hope so, to see you at the Giro.”