By David Hunter
Who is Sonny Colbrelli?
He’s 23 years old, Italian, and rides for Bardiani – CSF. He is a very talented rider, who has the capability to become one of the new stars of Italian cycling. He is a very fast finisher, after a hard race, in the same type of mould as John Degenkolb.
I caught up with Sonny, before Trofeo Laigueglia, to have a chat about his brilliant start to 2014.
What an amazing start to the season you’ve had, with 6 top 5 placings and 3 podium spots. You must be very pleased with this start?
Yes, this season started really well. It comes from a good Winter where I trained a lot, and paid extra attention to my weight. Hopefully the win will arrive soon.
You started the season at GP Costa Degli Etruschi, but had some problems on the final climb and finished 28th. Were you worried by this start?
I aimed to a better result. My teammates did an outstanding job during the whole day. I didn’t have good legs during last lap and when the Yellow Fluo riders attacked, I was dropped. I was very disappointed after the finish.
In Etoile de Besseges, you were 5th and 4th in the sprints on stage 3 and 4, before taking 3rdplace in the ITT. How pleased were you with the race?
I had some back luck during the first two stages, especially in stage 2 where I had a puncture, and lost minutes. This stopped me from having a chance at the overall podium. I did a good performance but there were pure sprinters like Coquard and Bouhanni, that right now are faster then me in bunch sprints.
Did you surprise yourself with your brilliant ITT, finishing 3rd?
Yes! But I was in really good shape that day.
You then went to Tour le Med and finshed 3rd, 4th and 3rd in the opening 3 stages. What did you think of the race?
I liked the race, it was the first time for me but I think that for my skills it’s a perfect race. You find hilly routes, where a fast rider like me can have the chance to win, but this year Degenkolb was super. I liked also the crowd especially during the weekend.
John Degenkolb seemed very strong in these races. What do you think about him?
Yes! He and his team managed really well the first three stages. I admire Dengekolb, a lot of people say that I’m similar to him, in skills and body. I hope with hard work to arrive at his level.
In the last 2 years you started the season in San Luis. Have you preferred staying in Europe?
I’m finding my position in pro cycling. I think I’m not a sprinter, but a fast rider who can compete for victory in a group of 80/100 riders, so not for bunch sprints. For this reason a race like Tour le Med is better than the Tour of Qatar.
What bike are you riding this year? What do you think about it?
Like last year I ride with a Cipollini RB1000, it’s best model. I really love this bike, it’s perfect for my skills. With Campagnolo EPS shift they make an incredible combo! Also we have great equipment from Prologo, Deda Elementi, Vittoria tyres, Elite. They support us like a WT team!
Your next race is on Friday 21st, Trofeo Laigueglia. The route seems to favour you and considering your great shape, what do you think of your chances?
Honestly, I go to Laigueglia to get success. I guess the time to win has arrived.
You spent much of 2013 riding with Sacha Modolo. He has also started the season very well with Lampre. What did you learn from him?
Sacha was first of all a really good friend, more than a teammate, from whom I learned a lot, especially in 2012 when I was neopro.
What do you put your good start to the year down to? Did you train more in the Winter? Are you enjoying more responsibility in the team?
With our training coach Simone Casonato, we made some changes in my training schedule. With part of the team we went for two weeks to Calpe (Spain) at the start of January. Also I understood that the time had arrived, for me to have more responsibility within the team.
In 2013 you finished a brilliant 12th in Milan San-Remo, on your debut. What do you remember of the race?
It was a really demanding race, but I like to race with rain and cold, so for me it wasn’t a problem. I arrived really close to enter the top-10, I hope this year I can improve my result.
The route is changing this year, but these plans are in doubt. Will it better or worse for you if the Pompeiana is included?
With my team we did a reconnaissance on the Pompeiana before the move to France. It’s a challenging climb, of course decisive for the victory. For me it’s better because it will be hard for sprinters arrive in front, in the last km.
You have ridden the Giro twice, despite being only 23 years old. Most riders I have interviewed have told me they feel capable of more after completing a Grand Tour. Do you feel the same?
Yes is true!
You must be looking forward to the 2014 Giro, as you and Battaglin will be the main sprinters?
As I said before, I don’t think I’m a sprinter for bunch arrival. I guess after SanRemo, I will start to study the stages and focus on those that have finishes suitable for me.
What races will you be doing after Laigueglia?
Strade Bianche, Roma Maxima, Tirreno and Milano Sanremo. I aim that my shape will grow race by race and arrive in SanRemo at my best.
What are your goals for the 2014 season?
First of all to win my first race as a pro. Then make a really good Spring, recover, and then focus on the Giro.
Do you have 1 eye on the Worlds?
Right now I don’t think about the World Championships, September is very far away. New Italian coach Cassani has called me for a training camp before GP Camaiore. It’s a honour and also means that I have some chances, if I’m in great condition come September.
Unfortunately for Sonny he didn’t take his 1st victory in Trofeo Laigueglia, but finished 4th. He continued his amazing run with 2nd in Lugano, 5th in Camaiore, 3rd in Roma Maxima, 2nd in Limburg and a brilliant 6th place in Milan-SanRemo. His first win is coming….