A story from the Tirreno-Adriatico: Francesca Baroni, cycling and life champion.

Races like Tirreno-Adriatico are magical. For a thousand reasons, plus one: magic, for the encounters that are made. The first, in the hotel of the Eolo-Kometa, on the eve of the start of the first stage. Francesca Baroni is a beautiful girl in love: with life, with cycling, with Ivan Basso. And she has a story to tell. And to tell it, begins the father Luca.

“My wife and I are very devoted to St. Francesco, so much so that when we learned that a baby girl was on the way, we immediately decided to name her Francesca. When she was born, she was a wonderful little girl and we baptized her in Assisi. A few months later we found out that Francesca was deaf, and it was a devastating moment for me: personally and in terms of my faith. St. Francesco, what a bad gift you gave me… A few months later we went back to Assisi, and a Franciscan friar heard our story and said a sentence that I will never forget: This child, in her life, will never have problems”.

And yes, that friar was right: Francesca has never had any problems. But now, she tells the rest of the story….
I was less than six years old, I got home and on TV they were showing the 2006 Giro d’Italia. I saw this boy in the pink jersey and I immediately thought: how handsome he is, I’m in love with him: I want to marry him…

And who was that boy?
Obviously, that boy was Ivan Basso. And from that day, my life has changed.

I realized that I liked him, but I also realized that I liked cycling: a lot. Ivan became my idol and I no longer missed a race of his, and then I decided that I would go cycling.

And indeed, Francesca started cycling. And like everything else she does in life, she started cycling in earnest….
First mountain biking, then ciclocross, then lots of road. And biking became my passion. A passion that has brought some results….

Third at the international mountain bike championships, eleventh at the European Championships. And in the cyclocross I arrived fifth at the Under23 world championships, and I won two Giri d’Italia. Now I would like that the bicycle became my job, beyond that my passion. And I know I’ll succeed…

Let’s talk about Ivan…and let’s go back to that little girl of almost six years old who wanted to marry him.
A few months after that stage of the Giro, my dad came home and told me that one of his colleagues wanted to say goodbye to me and that he was waiting for us at the Cesar hotel here in Camaiore. I didn’t really want to but I went, and once I got there my dad let me into a room….

There wasn’t a colleague of his: there was Ivan. I burst into tears and hugged my dad, I didn’t know what to do anymore. You know, I’m shy…

Then, what happened?
Ivan and I became friends, a lot. I always followed him, every time he ran close to home I went to see him at the hotel. And above all, Ivan taught me so much.

That, as he says, the asphalt bites: and when you ride a bike, you have to respect it. He taught me to love cycling. He taught me to never give up, never. It taught me that whatever obstacle life puts in front of you, you can overcome it. This is how I learned to live my particular condition, which, as that friar told my dad, has never been a problem. And for this, I must also say thank you to Ivan.

[ Maurizio Borserini]

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