(Photo Credit: Stéphane Mantey/EPA)

The 2021 season is upon us. As we embark on a new year full of aspiration, hope, determination and hopefully the Olympics, we decided to ask 5 simple questions to 5 leading Italian personalities within the sport. The 2020 season turned out to be crazy and exciting at the same time with many formidable performances, some expected and many surprises from a generation of young talents that will reshape the cycling world for the next few years. Among last season’s highlights, were Pogacar’s Tour de France, Ganna’s incredible and consistent strength, WVA vs MVDP, Geoghegan Hart’s Giro and Alaphilippe’s World Championship.

Will the uncertainty of 2021 create a favourable climate for another year of surprises? We asked which pro cyclists they expect to have a great season and with mixed responses given, it looks like we are heading for an exciting season to follow.

Davide Cassani, Simone Gambino, Luca Mazzanti, Alessandra De Stefano and Marco Grassi sit down virtually with CyclingDigest.net to reflect on past triumphs, fails and who they have their eye on for the new season.

Davide Cassani: Former pro road cyclist and manager for the Italian National Cycling Team.

  1. What was the best race of 2020?

Tour of Flanders. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mI-KVDK9lrg

2. The best performance of 2020?

All of Filippo Ganna’s victories and Tadej Pogacar’s time trial at La Planche des Belles Filles and at the Tour de France.

  1. Who were the 5 cyclists that surprised you in 2020?

Marc Hirschi, Filippo Ganna, Wout Van Aert, Geoghegan Hart and Hindley.

  1. Who were the 5 cyclists that disappointed you in 2020?

The season was so unusual that I don’t think it’s fair to pass judgement. 

  1. 2021 will be a great year for? (Name three names)

Bagioli, Hirschi and Dainese https://bici.pro/news/professionisti/dainese-un-anno-per-capire-e-adesso-buon-2021/

Simone Gambino: Journalist (including Tuttosport & TPI.it) passionate about cycling, founder and honorary president of the Italian Federation of Cricket.

  1. What was the best race of 2020?

Giro d’Italia.

  1. The best performance of 2020?

Pogacar at the La Planche des Belles Filles. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4hzld_tFedg

  1. Who were the 5 cyclists that surprised you in 2020?

Pogacar, Ganna, Hirschi, Van Aert and Van der Poel.

  1. Who were the 5 cyclists that disappointed you in 2020?

Bernal, Nibali, Dumoulin, Froome and Aru.

  1. 2021 will be a great year for? (Name three names)

Pogacar, Hirschi and Ciccone.

Luca Mazzanti: Former pro road cyclist and managing director of GGLL Bike Promotion, a representative agency which specialises in cycling. 

  1. What was the best race of 2020?

The last time trial of the Tour de France.

  1. The best performance of 2020?

Pogacar’s win at the Tour de France.

  1. Who were the 5 cyclists that surprised you in 2020?

Pogacar, Evenepoel, Geoghegan’s Giro https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pkDLRS0QzzY, Hirschi and Ganna.

  1. Who were the 5 cyclists that disappointed you in 2020?

Viviani, Bernal, Aru, Froome and Dumoulin.

  1. 2021 will be a great year for? (Name three names)

Evenepoel, Ganna and Ballerini. https://bici.pro/news/professionisti/ballerini-cosa-pensi-diciamo-roubaix/

Alessandra De Stefano: Journalist for RAI (the national public broadcasting company for Italy), cycling expert, television commentator and writer.

  1. What was the best race of 2020?

Ganna’s gold medal at the Imola World Championship Time Trial. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QhahgdOyLNI

  1. The best performance of 2020?

Alaphilippe at the Imola World Championship Road Race. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=370ujZtt7D8

  1. Who were the 5 cyclists that surprised you in 2020?

Tao Geoghegan, then Filippo Ganna, Filippo Ganna, Filippo Ganna and Filippo Ganna!

  1. Who were the 5 cyclists that disappointed you in 2020?

Ciccone, Aru, Alaphilippe at the Liège–Bastogne–Liège https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G9juEMBTWZQ, Alaphilippe hitting the motorbike at Flanders and Schachmann’s accident when the car entered the racecourse close to the finish at Lombardy.  

  1. 2021 will be a great year for? (Name three names)

Remco Evenepoel, Vincenzo Nibali and Van der Poel.

Marco Grassi: Sports journalist, founder and editor in-chief of one of the most popular cycling websites in Italy, Cicloweb.it

  1. What was the best race of 2020?

The fifth stage at the BinckBank Tour https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hagDE1GxIZw

  1. The best performance of 2020?

Pogacar at the Planche des Belles Filles.

  1. Who were the 5 cyclists that surprised you in 2020?

Hirschi, Pogacar, GeogheganHart, Almeida and Hindley.

  1. Who were the 5 cyclists that disappointed you in 2020?

Landa, Nibali, Valverde, Sagan and Buchmann.

  1. 2021 will be a great year for? (name three names)

Ciccone, Froome https://www.cyclingweekly.com/news/racing/chris-froome-riding-with-the-same-team-felt-like-copy-and-pasting-year-after-year-487781 and Viviani