The world of professional cycling is renowned for its relentless demands and the continuous reshuffling of teams and riders. In the midst of these dynamic changes, Italian cyclist Kristian Sbaragli, formerly with Alpecin, has recently embarked on a new chapter with Corratec. Sbaragli, who has previously supported high-profile teammates such as Van der Poel and Philipsen, found himself without a place in the Belgian team as they underwent a rejuvenation process, incorporating younger riders from their Development Team.
A New Opportunity at Corratec
Sbaragli recounted that he had a positive experience with his former team but acknowledged that after the World Championship discussions, it became clear that their visions diverged and staying on was no longer feasible. He mentioned that his tenure of four years was appreciated by the team and that the departure was merely due to a technical decision and a desire for renewal, typical of employment policies. Despite this, he maintained that he parted ways with the team on good terms.
Transition and New Roles
As he realised his time with the previous squad was up, Sbaragli faced several potential opportunities, albeit none materialised into a firm contract. Conversations with WorldTour and professional teams ensued but eventually, his connection with Lastrucci, a lifelong acquaintance and sponsor at Corratec, led to a new venture. Lastrucci’s persuasion and Sbaragli’s own readiness for personal challenges, placed on the back burner for the last four years, motivated him to take on this new role. He anticipates having greater freedom and possibly being a leader at times within the smaller team structure.
Sbaragli expressed enthusiasm for competing in a calendar more suited to his strengths and is keen to rediscover his competitive edge without the responsibility of supporting other leaders. However, he remains realistic, not necessarily aiming for victories in major races like the Giro d’Italia or Milan-San Remo, but rather to be competitive and make the most of the opportunities that arise.
Experience as an Asset
Acknowledging the smaller scale of his current team, Sbaragli indicated that there may be organisational and staffing challenges. Nonetheless, he values the wealth of experience accumulated over four years with Alpecin, particularly in training methods and nutrition. He believes this knowledge is transferable and beneficial to his new environment. He also sees his experience as pivotal in aiding the development of younger riders on the team who may benefit from additional guidance.
At 33, Sbaragli is relatively senior in the context of a sport increasingly dominated by younger cyclists. Yet, he is confident in his level of competitiveness, which fuels his decision to continue racing professionally. He pointed out the changing landscape of the sport, where it’s now common for juniors to step up and be competitive immediately, a shift from the past where such cases were exceptional.
Sbaragli is set to reawaken his instincts for racing, acknowledging that form can fluctuate, but when in good condition, one is less prone to mistakes. He has resumed his training regime by incorporating gym work and plans to engage in more intensive training sessions from late November, leading up to a December retreat where he will have the chance to forge stronger ties with his new teammates.