Friday, April 24, 2015

Riders of Olivano Locatelli

With the suspicion of Fabio Aru possibly being snared by the biological passport growing and his excuse of a viral infection having holes poked through it, I think it is a good point to bring up that the man who "discovered" him was famed (and infamous) Italian director Olivano Locatelli.

For those that want more background on Aru himself, you can direct yourself to Podium Cafe and the article I wrote back in 2013 when Aru was coming through the ranks. Hailing from Sardinia, Aru started riding on the MTB and cyclocross circuit in his junior ranks before Locatelli showed up at his house in 2009 asking if he wanted to go on the road with his team Palazzago. While Aru was a bit of a project as he had no pack skills to speak of, he certainly emerged as one of the best U23 riders in 2011 and 2012 after two wins in the Giro della Valle d'Aosta, a win in the Toscana Terra di Ciclismo and a podium in the GiroBio.

Locatelli has been around cycling for decades now and while he was a decent amateur rider, his major success came as a coach and director. Locatelli mostly worked on the amateur level but he did have stints on Mercatone Uno, Saeco and Landbouwkrediet.

While Aru's doping is still just rumors at this point, Olivano Locatelli has been a proven facilitator of doping in the past and many of his riders have turned up positive over the years. Daniel Friebe, one of the cycling's best writers, says that some in Italy swear up and down that Locatelli has changed. For someone with this history, I find it quite hard to believe especially with cycling's reputation for broken promises. In any case, I have compiled an incomplete list of riders that have been under the direction of Locatelli. This is not meant to be an implication of anything but just a nod to how far Locatelli's reach has been during the last 20 years in cycling.

Amateur ranks include:
Giovanni Lombardi
Fabio Casartelli
Dario Frigo
Paolo Savoldelli
Wladimir Belli
Ivan Gotti
Giuseppe Guerini
Marco Milesi
Lorenzo Bernucci
Leonardo Giordani
Paolo Tiralongo
Volodymir Gustov
Yaroslav Popovych
Volodymyr Bileka
Yuri Metlushenko
Tomas Vaitkus
Giampaolo Caruso
Sergey Lagutin
Santo Anza
Alberto Loddo
Matej Mugerli
Domenico Pozzovivo
Maurizio Biondo
Davide Vigano
Alessandro Bisolti
Branislau Samoilau
Stefano Pirazzi
Fabio Aru
Diego Rosa
Daniele Ratto
Simone and Luca Sterbini
Marlen Zmorka

On Mercatone Uno and Saeco, Locatelli directed the likes of:

Mario Cipollini
Michele Bartoli
Francesco Casagrande
Adriano Baffi
Eros Poli
Max Lelli
Gian Matteo Fagnini
Eddy Mazzoleni
Roberto Petito
Davide Cassani
Toto Commesso
Giorgio Furlan
Alexandre Moos

He brought Popovych to Landbouwkrediet and brought a whole Italian-Ukranian contingent with him before he was ejected in 2003 after being caught in wiretaps by Italian police regarding doping conversations. Riders he brought the Landbouwkrediet include...

Sergey Adyeyev
Mikhail Timochine
Santo Anza
Lorenzo Bernucci
Oscar Cavagnis
Claudio Lucchini
Domenico Romano
Salvatore Scamardella
Ruslan Gryschenko
Vladimir Duma
Tomas Vaitkus

There are more names that I could list with Locatelli but many of his amateur riders ended up being burnt out and never lived up to their potential as he drove them into the ground as U23s. Even though he has stated in recent years that it is stupid to start going for races in February, Locatelli has ruined many careers by trying to extract the best from his riders as U23s and leaving them dead for the transition to the pros. Leonardo Giordani won the U23 World RR in 1999 as well as the Giro della Regioni. He proceeded to race for 14 more years amongst various Italian teams and never registered a win during his entire career. Obviously he had the potential to do bigger things but alas, he never built off his U23 Worlds win.

The last few years he seems to have softened and tries to look for talent that were not big winners in the junior ranks and has stated that he doesn't care about winning. While this is a redeemable quality, I think that he lost his chance in this sport long ago. Olivano Locatelli might be a nice guy and could be a good coach too but he doesn't belong coaching young, impressionable riders.

1 comment:

  1. Where the suspicions about Aru comes from? Are they rumors in the peloton or what?