Here are the men who support the sporting director Davide Arzeni at the Giro Donne.

It is 5:45 am in the province of Reggio Emilia. A fiery-colored sun begins to peek through the surrounding tall buildings, suggesting that, as happened in the terrible stage of Cesena, the heatwave will keep the athletes company in the Carpi – Reggio Emilia too.

There are five hours to go for the fifth stage of the Giro Donne but something is already starting to move. Four people approach the vehicles of Valcar – Travel & Service: they are Andrea Stucchi, Luca Riva, Stefano Pirovano and Marco Gaino, mechanics and masseurs of the Bottanuco team and directed by the sporting director Davide Arzeni (whose interview we offer you made by CyclingTips); for them the stage has just begun.

Riva e Stucchi

The mechanic Luca Riva e Andrea Stucchi

«Our daily life begins three hours before the departure of the vehicles with the girls», explains Andrea Stucchi, 25, in his first year in Valcar – Travel & Service. “The first step is to recharge the bikes, cleaned and arranged yesterday evening, on the team’s vehicles”.

And it is no small task, given that among bicycles, components, tubulars and replacement parts we are talking about a nice equipment.

«Twelve bicycles, two per athlete, three spare frames; 31 pairs of wheels, handlebars, gears, saddles, chains and brake pads », Stucchi calculates.

And the equipment could have been even greater, calculating the eight very special Cannondale used in Sardinia for the Cagliari time trial and brought back to Bergamo during the rest day.

«The rest day was our stage in the Dolomites», explains Luca Riva, 25, former Palazzago athlete in his first season as a team mechanic. “Boarding in Olbia, landing in Livorno and then the division of staff: some in Cesena to assist the girls during the day off, some in Bergamo to bring back the bicycles”.


The masseuse Marco Gaino

Among the direct staff in Emilia Romagna were the two masseurs of the team, Stefano Pirovano and Marco Gaino. The alarm clock rings early for them too. There are the interiors of the vehicles to be fixed.

“Like every team, we also share the tasks: Andrea and Luca clean the outside of the flagships, we clean the inside,” explains Marco Gaino, in his first year in the blue-fuchsia team.

But the highlight of their daily stop comes in the afternoon, when the girls take a seat on the massage table.

“Ours is a work of experience, in which training is certainly important, at least as much as the ability to get in tune with the athlete from a psychological point of view,” explains Stefano Pirovano. “There are girls who want to talk, others who are a little more closed: for this reason the masseurs in the team are rarely changed; it is a relationship that has its equilibrium and must be protected, if the girls are happy “.

As proof of this relationship that goes beyond the professional aspect, Stefano is the person who, outside the Carrefour de l’Arbre, encouraged his former athlete, Elisa Balsamo, engaged in chasing the group.

«The Roubaix was undoubtedly the toughest race for us too», confesses Gaino «I remember muscle bands that were hardened everywhere: legs, arms, backs and hands; those poor hands “.


The masseuse Stefano Pirovano – credit T. Muzzi

At the Giro Donne, on the other hand, the enemy is the heat. Thus the masseurs are transformed into cooks.

«Bottles, refueling, post-race; everything must be prepared to perfection. At these levels and with these temperatures, a mistake can be costly ».

The clock strikes 8.00; the first part of their Carpi – Reggio Emilia is over. But already this evening we will have to get back on track; as well as for the girls, the Sarnico – Bergamo is in the crosshairs.