It’s that all-round ability that has seen Gianni stand out in several forms of racing in the early part of his career and he’s more than happy to continue like that for the time being: “At the moment I’m an all rounder, and I’m happy,” he says. “I’ll keep going like this. I don’t have too much focus on one discipline.”
Despite that, his eyes light up when the Classics are mentioned, particularly after his encouraging ride in the 2016 Paris-Roubaix. After a late call up to the team due to his excellent early-season form, Gianni had made the front group, but crashed on the cobbles with around 25km to go. He remounted and battled home to finish a reputable 38th. “It was a nice race for me,” he opines. “I did well until the crash, and I thought it would be possible to get a good result. But just to be there with the strongest guys was big for me.”
Previewing this year’s race, he adds: “We have a strong team, even stronger than last year because everybody is one year more experienced. Luke and Ian [Rowe and Stannard], are our leaders and we will support them, but if any of us have the legs in the final it’s good for them if we attack. And anything can happen then - maybe we would get our chance.”
The young Italian has been compared with Geraint Thomas for his ability to play a key role in races of differing characteristics, and G is quick to acknowledge the impact his team-mate has made in his first fifteen months with the team: “He’s a quality bike rider. He’s aggressive; he has respect for guys, but he also holds his own, fights for the team, and holds his position. He’s a massive talent, who will only get better as he gets older.
“Of course he did well as an amateur, but just to slot straight in, especially in our team, is very impressive. He’s improving all the time and it won’t be long until he’s winning some big bike races.”