Salvatore Puccio enjoyed an impressive first season among the professional ranks in 2012 and top-10 results at the Trofeo Deia, Tour de Luxembourg and Tour de Suisse proved he could hold his own at the very pinnacle of the sport.
The Italian first caught the eye as an amateur after racking up wins in the Toscana – Coppa delle Nazioni and Firenze-Viareggio, but it was his fantastic solo victory in the 2011 under-23 Tour of Flanders which prompted Team Sky to snap him up. Since then, Puccio has been given time to develop his talents, and the Sicilian has grown to become a valued cog in the Team Sky machine. Appearances at Milan-San Remo, Liege-Bastogne-Liege and Il Lombardia have aided Puccio’s one-day Classics experience, and it is these races where he is looking to shine in the future.
Q & A
Who inspired you to start cycling?I started off doing some 'play races' with my brother and it grew from there.
First bike:It was a yellow Fausto Coppi. Very small, but very fast.
First cycling club:Mephi - a small team when I was very young.
Childhood hero:Oscar Freire - he is such a strong rider and has won many important races.
What do you love most about cycling?I really like to ride my bike for a living. It is work but at the same time it makes me very happy.
What has cycling taught you?Cycling is like a school of life for me. It has taught me a lot, about the sacrifices you have to go through to reach this level.
Previous teams:2008 Monsumannese; 2009-10 Bedogni; 2011 Team Hopplà
Favourite ride:Milan-San Remo last year as a neo-pro. I did a lot of work for the team.
Career highlight:In 2011 when I won the under-23 Tour of Flanders.
If you weren't a rider, what would you be?I don't know what I would do.
Interests away from cycling:When I have free time I like to spend it with my friends, family and girlfriend.
Favourite music:A bit of everything
Best friend in the peloton:I try to keep good relations with everyone.
Most famous person you've met:Probably the people I raced against in 2012.
Best advice:Give your best and don't take shortcuts. Nothing is impossible.
GP San Giuseppe - 5th; GP Pretola - 5th
Tour of Flanders under-23 - 1st; Toscana - Coppa delle Nazioni - 1st stage three and 4th overall; Firenze - Viareggio - 1st; GP Palio del Recioto - 2nd; Giro del Belvedere di Villa di Cordignano - 2nd; GP Pretola - 2nd; GP Capodarco - 5th
Trofeo Deia - 6th; Tour de Luxembourg - 11th overall.