Living Up To Himself: Moreno Moser looks ahead to second pro season
By Jen See
In his first year as a professional, Moreno Moser won five races. This is not the norm in a sport that more often rewards experience than youth. Plainly, the 22-year-old has talent. He also has pedigree. Moreno Moser is the nephew of 1977 world champion Francesco Moser. It all adds up to big expectations for the young Cannondale Pro Cycling rider.
“Last year, I take great results, I think,” Moser told Cycling Illustrated. “And people, [they expect] every year you grow. It is not easy. Last year, I won a stage race of the pro tour, so if this year, I don’t win a pro tour race, I’ve lost, no?”
Moser celebrated his first professional victory at the Italian one-day race Trofeo Laigueglia. Then he picked up a win in Frankfurt at the Eschborn-Frankfurt City Loop. His first pro tour victories came at the Tour of Poland, where Moser won two stages and the overall. He also finished third in the Italian national championship road race, third at GP Cycliste de Montréal, and third in a stage of the Tour de Suisse.
“Lagueglia was the first, so it was beautiful,” said Moser. “Then, I ride Frankfurt, but it was more important than Lagueglia, then I win Poland, and it was most important. Every victory has a story.”
It was a big season for a first year professional. Consequently, Moser feels more pressure to live up to his big first season than to his family’s history. Asked if he feels the weight of expectations because of his family name Moser said, “Oof… I think now, this is not the problem. I think I have the pressure of me. Like, not every guy has won five races in the first year.”
The young rider appears more inspired than intimidated by his family history. Moser’s uncle Francesco Moser won the Giro d’Italia, a world championship title, and six victories in cycling’s monuments. The elder Moser is one of the few riders to combine a victory in a grand tour with success on the cobbles at Paris-Roubaix.
As a junior and U23, Moser showed a knack for stage racing, and the hillier one-day races. In 2011, for example, he won two stages of the Baby Giro. “I always look at the career of my uncle. But maybe we are different in some ways,” said the younger Moser. “I couldn’t win maybe a Paris-Roubaix.”
Moser sees himself as more similar to riders such as Moreno Argentin, who won stages in all three grand tours and Liège-Bastogne-Liège four times, and 1982 world champion Guiseppe Saronni, who was famous for his rivalry with Francesco Moser and won 24 stages of the Giro d’Italia in his career.
For this year, Moser is hoping to win another pro tour race. In particular, he will aim for a good ride in Ardennes classics. Before his career is finished he would like to win one of cycling’s monuments, and he has his eye on Liège-Bastogne-Liège, the oldest of the one-day classics.
“I would like to win a monumental classic,” he said. “Maybe, Liegi. When I finish my career, and I look behind, I would like to have won one classic and one big tour.” Laughing, he added, “I think that could be enough!”
Moser will also get his first taste of the grand tours this season. In July, he heads to the Tour de France. “I will be in the Tour, not for the general, maybe not for a stage,” he said. The first grand tour is a milestone for every young rider, and Moser’s goal will be to learn the ropes at cycling’s biggest stage race.
Cannondale team captain Ivan Basso views Moser as a big rider for the future, and expects him to progress quickly. “We can take Moser, and in one year, try to do like Nibali year by year,” said Basso. “And maybe, we don’t need four years, maybe only one or two. We have a good group to help the good rider become a champion.”
“Obviously, they want me to win a big race, but it is not easy,” Moser said of his goals for the season. “I have to win a pro tour race, minimum.” Moser knows that big victories in cycling do not come easily. “In running, you have only to be strong. In cycling, you have to be lucky,” he explained. “You can prepare a race for a year, and there’s the breakaway, and you lost the race.”
A strong team definitely helps, in Moser’s view. “If you have a big team, a great team, you can create your luck,” he said, and the young rider seems happy to have a ride at Cannondale. “I think it’s a great team.”
For now, Moser is looking forward to his second pro season with that unique mix of confidence and nerves that characterizes talented young riders. Visibly ambitious, Moser expects a great deal of himself, though it is clear he also recognizes that success in cycling rarely comes easily.
“Every race is beautiful for what it is,” he said. “You have a great memory of every race. That is always beautiful.”