While TEAM LAMPRE-MERIDA missed out on top10 results and thus on precious points at this year’s spring Classics, the performances of Matteo Bono have been the bright spot. At both Milano-San Remo and Liège-Bastogne-Liège, Bono made it into the group of the day. And he was riding in the respective lead groups for several hours, giving the team valuable screen time in some of the biggest races of the season. Plenty of reasons to get up close with Matteo Bono and ask him some questions.
? Matteo, you have spent quite some hours and about 500 kilometres in escape groups this spring in the two Classics Milano-San Remo and Liège-Bastogne-Liège, giving your sponsors some precious visibility in TV and other media. Was this your plan at the start of the two respective races or did you just happen to follow the right wheels in the early stages of those two Classics?
MB: It was the team’s plan to take care of the attacks in the early kilometres and to try and join the breakaways in both races. During the team meetings with the sport directors, I received this task, and I focused my attention on getting that job done in the best way. During the early kilometres, I studied the situation and attacks, and I joined the ones that I thought were the right ones. I hit the target at two Classics.
? What does it feel like to ride so many hours in a small group with no team mates rather than in the peloton? Is there a lot of talking in such a group as rivals become temporary allies for some hours?
MB: There’s no time for talking, really. Everyone is focused on his performance, on living with the strain and on managing his energies. There are a lot of things to think about: You need to eat properly, use the right clothes, be ready to understand the course and so on.
? Is an aerodynamically optimised bike such as the new MERIDA REACTO EVO a big help in such escapes? Do you feel a difference compared to last year’s SCULTURA SL?
MB: Actually, the aerodynamical effect of MERIDA’s REACTO EVO helps a lot when you have to cover so many kilometres fighting against the wind. The bike also has a lot of drive, it’s a pleasure to ride it and it helps to attack.
? Do you consider yourself a specialist for long escape moves, a “baroudeur” like Jacky Durand or Jens Voigt? Where do you see your strengths as a rider?
MB: Despite having obtained three victories thanks to long breakaways, I don’t think of myself as a Jacky Durand or a Jens Voigt. Much rather I’m a regular rider who can read the evolution of a race properly and who is both able and willing to give his support to the team, getting the job done that the sport directors have lined out.
? In your 2nd year as a professional you had three stage wins, two of them in pretty big events (both in 2007 at Tirreno Adriatico and Tour de Romandie, respectively), but only one win in the years after: Where do you see the reason for this?
MB: In this analysis, it’s important not to forget the luck factor. Only very few champions can choose to attack and to achieve a victory. All the other riders, even if they make many attempts to attack, need to be lucky to hit the target, since there are many variables for obtaining a victory.
? You have been riding with LAMPRE ever since you became a professional cyclist in 2006. How do you see the development of the team, especially since MERIDA has come aboard as a co-sponsor in the spring of 2013?
MB: I noticed that the team managed to follow the evolution of modern cycling without sacrificing its amazing traditional spirit: LAMPRE is a tight-knit family for riders and staff, interpersonal relations count a lot, and it’s important that these values have been safeguarded. When MERIDA joined the group this gave the team an additional value in terms of equipment and a more international approach, two key elements for a modern team.
? How did you get into cycling? Did your family support you and your wish to become a professional cyclist?
I got into cycling following the passion that always has been around in my family. My elder brother spent two year as pro cyclist. Both my mother and my father were happy and supported me too in my ambitions to become a pro cyclist as well.