“A real Moser” said La Gazzetta Dello Sport. The day after Moreno Moser won the Strade Bianche, Italy’s sports newspaper went to town on the family connections because Moreno is just the latest of the Moser clan to make a name for himself in the sport.
Above all though the new Moser has, to borrow a phrase from L’Equipe, so much panache he’s selling the surplus. Saturday’s race provided the perfect result for RCS but also for Italian cycling in general. Finally an Italian won and one with charisma and a famous name too.
As we often see, cycling trades on its history. The Strade Bianche race derives a lot of its charm from the retro vibe with unsealed roads and dust giving us the Technicolor remake of what races must have been like a century ago. The same with names in the sport and Moser is a loaded word in Italian cycling.
The most famous Moser is Francesco Moser. These days a wine maker in the native Trentino region with his brother Diego, the father of Moreno. But known to millions in Italy as one of the most complete Italian riders of the late 70s and early 80s. You could compare him to Fabian Cancellara in that he was a fearsome rouleur able to ride the field off his wheel in a race like Paris-Roubaix. But he was more too with a win in the Giro to his name and plenty more. These days we have to mention his hour record backed by the “medical” support of Ferrari and Conconi.
Normally we get father-son comparisons but Francesco Moser’s shadow is large enough to reach his nephew Moreno. “We like races where the heart counts, where good fortune counts… but that said, I’m not his son, just his nephew” said Moreno after his weekend win to La Gazzetta.
On the subject of paternal DNA though Diego Moser, Moreno’s papa has said “I’m glad he hasn’t taken after me,” quite a statement to make. But Diego’s one of several brothers with Enzo, Aldo and Francesco and probably the family member with the smallest palmarès. At times it’s hard to escape the family, indeed the Piazza del Campo in Siena was mobbed by the Mosers with fathers, sons, brothers, cousins and more there.
But Moser is making a name for himself. As an amateur he started in the local club US Montecorona and quickly rose up the ranks, by his last year he led the 2011 Giro Bio for a day after a stage win in Asiago, won on the sterrati roads too. He then signed with Liquigas. His debut was highly impressive as he won the early season Trofeo Laigueglia with a fast move to solo away from the sprinters. Then he confirmed this was no luck with third place in the Settimana Coppi e Bartali time trial in March, a win in the Rund um den Finanzplatz-Frankfurt. The he stepped up to World Tour level to win the Tour of Poland and finish second in the GP de Montréal. All in one year. It was enough to convince the management of the Cannondale team that they could build a team around him and Peter Sagan with the likes of Elia Viviani and Ivan Basso in support.
Lotterò con tutte le mie forze per ridare credibilità allo sport che amo…
— Moreno Moser (@MorenoMoser) January 18, 2013
He’s also outspoken. In the wake of Lance Armstrong’s Oprah Winfrey performance, the Italian tweeted “I’ll fight with all my force to bring back credibility to the sport that I love” and the other day he told La Repubblica that he rides on pane e acqua which might be meaningless but few seem to stand up and say it.
What next? That remains to be seen. He’s an agile rider and – look closely at the image above – very lean so perhaps comparisons to Uncle Francesco won’t go too far as he can climb better. The interaction with Peter Sagan is interesting, the Cannondale team now has two ace cards to play. For it’s still very early but, as the youngest finisher of Saturday’s Strade Bianche, you can see why the Italian media are excited by a new face even if the name is old.
Tomorrow, the tale of another winner from last weekend, Blel Kadri. The surprise winner of Roma Maxima finally won a big race worthy of his talents. He doesn’t have the pedigree of Moser but his family is still part of the story.