Ivan Basso: “This team, a dream come true. And now, the fun begins…”
“This team is something that I chased with all my might, like an opponent who ran away. It is not a team, it is a global project. Spada? Enlightened. Pedranzini? A gentleman. Alberto Contador? My little brother. Fran Contador? Our balance”.
And in the end it is a bit like when you are at the foot of that climb which will tell you the truth, which will tell you if you have won or lost. A sigh to let your heart rate go down a little, a knowing look at your teammates and a challenge look to your opponents. And then begins that very personal challenge against the asphalt, the mountains and the fatigue.
In the end it is a bit like that. Being there, exactly in that place and exactly at that moment, is already something beautiful in itself: because to get there you have pedaled a lot, you have struggled, you have covered kilometers. Yet, everything is still to be written.
Ivan Basso knows it, he knows it well: now that the dream of building a team “as he likes” has come true, now that everyone can see what he had in mind for years, now that his team has a name and has colors. “This – he says – is a point of arrival, but it is also a starting point: this is how it is in cycling, always. When you win, you immediately think about what to do to win again, when you lose you imagine what it will take to restart immediately. A cyclist is never stationary, and neither is a man: take what I am doing now, for example. In a world like this that always runs and runs fast, there is no room for second thoughts: because while you are thinking how to do it, someone else is doing it”.
Evolution: this is the word on which Ivan raises his tone of voice as if to underline something. “For a lifetime I did only one thing: I rode a bicycle. Then, one day I stopped and at that moment there is little to do: either you invent something new, or you just tell what you did before to people who pretend to be interested in listening to you. I have never loved listening to the same story told by the usual ex sportsman too many times. Of course, listening to a good story is always something that enriches: but if you don’t start again, if you don’t do something else, in the end it’s always the same story”.
And then: “I am admired by the sportsman who reinvents himself, who gets involved, who bets, who at the end of his career takes a new path. Which is not necessarily linked to what he did before, but which takes inspiration from what he did before and takes advantage of experience”.
So, here is the Eolo-Kometa. Here she is. What is that? “Something that I chased with all my strength, like an opponent who ran away and on the run with too much advantage to wait. It is not a team, it is a global project that unites different companies, which does business involving 70 people, which makes millions of euros go round. And that starts with a different strength: because it is a team within a company, and it is a company within a team. A philosophy that we have undertaken in recent years with Kometa and that now with the arrival at the head of the group of Eolo we are continuing with even more strength”.
In these years spent imagining what has now been born, what did Ivan Basso think? “I allowed myself to dream: sometimes dreams come true, sometimes they don’t. But the moment when the dream becomes an idea is important, because the idea develops in your head, others do not see it but you grind it and work it: you make it grow, you propose it to others, you expect everyone to follow you. Because for you that is the most beautiful idea in the world. Then, it happens that that idea goes from “yours” to “ours”. And that moment is beautiful: trust me”.
Ivan cuddles this team: beautiful, beautiful to fall in love with. “What if I imagined it like this? No, it is much more beautiful than I imagined… because something unexpected was born. A total sharing was born with those who decided to finance this idea. Even more beautiful because it has surrounded itself with skills, with managerial skills: those who have the idea must have the ability to surround themselves with good people and put them in the right place”.
One name: Luca Spada. “An enlightened entrepreneur, capable of doing things in his life that no one had yet dared to think. And if you present the right idea to such a man, there is a good chance that he will follow you. And then, Eolo and cycling seem made for each other: a perfect combination, a combination that can really write the history of this sport”.
Another name: Giacomo Pedranzini. “A man of honor, a person who if he says one thing then does that thing. If this team exists, if it has made this qualitative leap, the merit is to him that in the last three years he has supported and endured everyone and everything, facing and overcoming real difficulties. And then, there is one thing that really makes me happy: the relationship that has developed between Pedranzini and Spada, there is a mutual esteem born of common visions”.
Let’s continue with the “names office”. Alberto Contador. “My little brother, one who, when he ran, forgot he was the strongest of all and ran as if he were the last of the riders. Now he has been very good at getting back into the game, at reinventing himself: between me and him there is an eternal harmony, the “me” never exists but only the “us” exists and when someone is in difficulty the other helps him as one does between teammates. For our riders he is a myth and he leads them by example, every day”.
Last name: Fran Contador. “The ideal point of connection between Alberto and me, the ability to put our euphoria in order, the strength to let us put in an agile relationship when needed while we would always pedal with a hard relationship. He is our balance”.
Runners. How did you choose them? “We took people who wanted to come and run with us, who didn’t just care about their salary but were driven by different values. We took those who understood one thing: whoever runs in this team will go away as a different rider. We offer an “emotional salary”, made up of our desire to make everyone who stay with us feel good. Then, of course, we also looked at the characteristics of each one: three experienced runners ready to win, some category athletes who need to relaunch, a group of young people to help and invent some surprises. We want to win, and we want to do it immediately: in this category we don’t run to grow, we run to win ”.
What does Ivan expect from his riders? “Total and complete commitment? Yes, but it would be obvious to say: it is their job. I expect riders to live as a team, as a team that wants to win, and when they lose it will be because someone was better than us. I expect the colors of our shirt to be felt on them, always. I expect that thanks to them the fans will immediately recognize our jersey in the passing group: here they are, they are from Eolo-Kometa, and they never give up ”.
And what a rider must never do: “It must never be destructive, but proactive. Problems are solved in the team, not outside: in the best families, this is how it works ”.
And so, Ivan, is now asking something for 2021: “It seems trivial, but I ask for health for the whole world. I ask that in my team there is always a spirit of sacrifice and a desire to grit the teeth for the teammate rather than for himself. We are all facing an enormous opportunity: it will be our attitude that will tell whether we have taken advantage of this opportunity, or if we have let it slip away”.
[📷 Atila Madrona]