Swiss rider Oliver Zaugg won today’s race in Lombardia, taking everybody by surprise. But his win wasn’t a lucky break or a fluke, he made the lead group and attacked on the steepest part of the day’s final climb to Villa Vergano and held off any chasers. In recent weeks he’d taken top-10 places in the GP Beghelli and the Giro d’Emilia but is a discreet figure in the bunch.
Aged 30, he is from near Zurich, Switzerland’s
capital biggest city but today lives with his wife and daughter in the Italian-speaking part of Switzerland in the canton of Ticino that borders Lake Como, making him almost at home on today’s roads.
His best result until now was arguably 11th place overall in the 2008 Vuelta a Espana with several top-10 placings in mountain stages of races like the Tour de Suisse. He’s a climber, weighing 58kg (128lbs) and had spent all his career in the service of others with no win or even a podium spot, if you exclude team time trials wins earned with Liquigas. Indeed he spent a couple of seasons helping Vincenzo Nibali but today he was the won who profited from Nibali’s efforts after the Siciclian was caught with less 20km to go.
Given he’s not a star information is hard to come by. When interviewed by the Swiss media he was asked what animal he would pick if he could be reincarnated as an animal in a second life:
A marmot high up in the mountains, that wouldn’t be bad. They’re cosy, have no stress and are independent. Nobody bothers them during the day
In the same interview he says he prefers red wine over beer but his main focus is on his family and his health, as well as doing his job.
He’s often been in the lead group in the mountains, something that does not happen by accident, you either have it or you don’t. Zaugg’s climbing abilities have seen him animate races, the image above for example was from this year’s Dauphiné where he attacked on the final climb to the ski station of Les Gets, only to get overhauled by Europcar’s Christophe Kern.
Indeed in the recent Giro d’Emilia he was away with eventual winner Carlos Betancur, the two of them got away on the penultimate ascension of the San Luca climb and its 18% gradients but the Colombian jumped away to grab the win on the final ascent whilst Zaugg was caught. Today nobody caught him.