You often say your second year in the Tor taught you a great life lesson. What was it?
“I realised the journey’s more important than the race. I was doing well, but I didn’t just concentrate on performance. The whole race is important, you have to experience it fully and handle it on different levels of emotion and competition as the conditions change. I’ve learned to listen to my body, plan less and get into the flow of what’s happening”.
So what is it that drives you to take the challenge of this race?
“I have to say the mountains are uniquely beautiful, and it’s gratifying to spend whole days there. But this year I’ll have another goal. I've become a dad, and I want to cross the finish line with my son. Maybe picking him up after 330 kilometres will kill me (he laughs, ed.) but that’s my dream for the 2021 event”.
For you the Tor is a family thing. Your dad always supports you at the life bases.
“That’s true. Since 2012 he’s always been at my side; these days he knows the course better than I do. Knowing he’s with me gives me a load of energy and drive, I’m proud to have him there. In 2012 I stopped five metres before the finish line to hug him, the loudspeaker asked me to finish the race, for the chronometer… but at that point it was secondary - I was with my dad”.
But those who are preparing to run the Tor for the first time won’t have your father for support. What would be your advice to amateur runners who attempt this adventure?
“To enjoy the race. They should be honest with themselves and not assume anything; run as they know how to, according to their training. They need to be flexible and change their strategy if things don’t go as planned. You can even walk it, the important thing is to enjoy the journey. There are some fantastic moments: the hundred metres after a refreshment point, where the people are wonderful, are the easiest (he laughs, ed.). But there are also some awful parts: for example, I suffer a lot between 130 and 160 kilometres - it’s always too hot. But every runner needs to find their own way”.
What training will you do in the coming days?
“For this race, I’ve set myself the goal of finishing in 80-85 hours. Marco De Gasperi gave me confidence, so I want to try it, even though I’ve recently recovered from a back injury that kept me out of action for more than a month. Now I’m getting the kilometres in and trying to do as much height elevation as possible. Nearer the date I’ll slow down quite a lot, and rest up so I can be on top form”.
And then it’ll be time to get ready for next year’s edition…
“This definitely won’t be my last Tor; I want to do it again. I don’t know when, it depends on the situation and how prepared I am. But I’ll be back - this is my home”.
Photo credits: Jose Miguel Munoz, Ruben Fueyo, Lorenzo Belfrond per Grivel