Of the eight riders who have joined Tudor Pro Cycling for 2024, Matteo Trentin is certainly the one with the greatest palmares and experience. His decision may have come as a surprise to some, but it felt very natural to the 2018 European Champion. We sat down with him to ask what motivated him, and also to talk about his role and ambitions for 2024.
Your name came as a surprise to many in August 2023 when we announced the new signings for 2024. Can you please explain what your motivations were to join the team?
To be honest, it mainly came down to personal connections. I have known the Head of Sports (Ricardo Scheidecker) for a long time already. We first met in 2017 and worked together for one year at Quick Step. Even if it was only one year, we always kept in touch and he told me about him joining Tudor Pro Cycling just days after he signed his contract at the end of 2022. Then he told me more about the project and very naturally the desire to join the team started growing.
“Join us because we have a project”
You were part of some of the biggest teams in the world like Quick Step and UAE among others. Was moving to a ProTeam a step back in your mind?
Not at all. Some ProTeams have the same structure and the same motivation as WorldTeams. When we first talked, the main line was “Join us because we have a project”. It wasn’t about money or about me winning races. And as I got to know more about the project, I started to be excited. It is a long-term project, and being part of the process, helping the team grow, get better and step up, is something I find really nice, especially at my age.
What role have you been given in the team?
Different roles: we want to make use of my experience to help the younger riders to develop in a fast yet organic way. That means sharing as much as possible with riders who don't have much experience because of their young age and support them in bigger races. I used to race most of the big races while it is the opposite for them. These races need a different approach, and I am here to help them cope with that. Of course, I am also here to score wins and points to help the team to get up in the UCI Team Ranking.
I am not the Bible. I can give insights into what I think and what I see, and then it is up to the other to understand, to make it his and use it as he thinks it is best.
Sharing experience and teaching young riders, is that something you enjoy doing?
I enjoy it especially when on the other side there is someone who wants to hear and listen. In that case, it is easy. But I am not the Bible, you know. I can give insights into what I think and what I see, and then it is up to the other to understand, to make it his and use it as he thinks it is best.
Can you feel that the young riders are asking for it or are they waiting for the races to start?
I am more than happy to give my opinion when asked. But I would say they most likely do what I did in the past: looking what the old guys do and you try to learn from them.
Who did you look up to as a young rider?
When I turned professional, the main rider in the team was Tom Boonen. So, for the classics for sure, I was looking at him. Sorry Fabian! (laughs) But I started out with duties in the leadout train. When Cavendish came to the team, we built a train for him and Gert Steegmans was my teacher. He was the lead out guy and I was the guy in front of him. You know, race by race, he just gave me some tips and we built up a really good unit that lasted for three years.
We talked about sharing experiences with the riders. Is it also true with regards to the staff as there are a few people who are maybe a little less experienced than in other teams?
It is more about the automatisms in the team. The structure is new, everybody is new, me included. So it is all about growing as a whole, creating a system where everybody is happy and everything is there. It is true for the riders, but also for the staff, we shouldn’t forget about them. So, it is all about finding the best way to build up our own environment. And of course, experience helps for that as we can bring the best of what we saw and experienced throughout our different careers.
How important is it for your performance to be in a structure where you feel good?
It’s super important. If you don't feel good in a team, albeit being the team that gives you the best material, the best salary, whatever you want and ask for, you won’t perform. Happiness is the base of performance.
What does your season look like? Where will we see you race in 2024?
I start at the end of January at La Marseillaise. Then, I will have another training block ahead of Vuelta a Murcia, Clasica de Almeria and Volta ao Algarve. After that, I will go to Belgium for Opening Weekend before Paris-Nice and more Classics. And I hope to be in Paris for the Olympics.
You mentioned in a conversation that the Olympics is a race you never took part in. Is it one of your big goals for this year?
Yeah, I only took part in the opening ceremony of the Games in London... I got to know on that very day that I only will be a reserve rider. I was very unhappy about it and went to the ceremony. I might be the only road cyclist who ever made it to the opening ceremony (laughs). I think Paris is my last possibility to be an Olympian one day. In road cycling, the Olympic Games are not as big as other sports, because it is a strange race with much less riders and no radio. But I think as a sports person, the Olympics are the pinnacle of everything, so it is one of my main goals for this season. First, being there and then being good.
Apart from the Olympics, what are the races where you want to perform?
The Classics of course. But I am coming from a year where I wasn’t very successful at races so the most important thing is to be back at the top. I want to play an active role at races and take victories.
Every victory is good. The bigger the better of course. But even if it's a small race, it is good to win. And I would like to start winning as soon as possible.
Tudor Pro Cycling is a Swiss Team. How much did you know about Switzerland before signing with the Team?
Actually, all my grandparents worked in Switzerland back in the day. They did some construction and housekeeping work in Summer and were going home in Winter. My dad was born in Switzerland and spent the first two years of his life there. I don’t know the whole story but one year, when the Tour de Suisse finished in Schaffhausen, my father made the trip to see his house again. It was close to the famous waterfalls.
I know Switzerland a little thanks to racing and because I come from a region close to the border, but I think I know more the clichés than anything else… (laughs)
Skiing, banks, neutrality, watches… and chocolate! And for us Italians, known for our disorganization, Switzerland is a highly organized country.
Is that something you can feel in the team?
Yes, at the Get Together last October already. The plan was well prepared, I had never experienced it at that level. I was impressed so yeah; it is probably quite Swiss.
If you had to give one tip to a young rider who wants to make a career, what would it be?
Easy: “Never stop believing”. You know I wasn't that good when I was young. I never talked to any ProTeam until I was 22. It was years ago, and I know times are different. There is greater importance given to numbers and technology. Your dream is not over with 19 or 20 years of age. Maybe you must take a longer path. But if you really want it, it is possible.
You talked about numbers and modern technologies. That is something that really gained importance while you were already a pro cyclist. How do you like that?
I like technology and numbers, but I don't like the way certain people look at it as the only truth. Each team is looking for the new teenage phenomenon. But through data only, a person like me would never have turned professional. So yeah, I think we need to step back a little. It is ok to search for the new young phenomenon by numbers. But if you see how many 18 years old neo pros there are and how many actually break through, there is a big difference. I think we are losing many talents by not giving them more time.
Cycling is hard work. You spend a lot of time away from home, you train hard, sometimes you crash and destroy yourself.
Is it too much too early for certain riders?
Yes, because you are still incredibly young at 18. You are still a teenager. You need to experience life as a teenager, but cycling is very demanding and does not leave much time for this. Cycling is hard work. You spend a lot of time away from home, you train hard, sometimes you crash and destroy yourself. So one out of a hundred or a thousand can make it mentally. Others need a softer approach to all this. That is my point of view.
You are starting your 12th season as a pro rider. You have a family, and you are many days away from home. What is your recipe to keep it fun?
You just need to like it. If you turn professional because of the money, then your career will be quite short. I like it but I am not just a cyclist. I like to do other sports when I get the chance. I like to go for a swim, to spend a day on skis, and to play soccer with my kids. Cycling is a part of my life. But it is not the only thing. I don’t have it on my mind 24/7. When I am done with training, I don’t spend time checking watts per kilometer. I talk with the coach of course but when the discussion is over, I don't try to reanalyze all of it myself. My day of work is done, that's it. I try to not bring my job home.
Do you ride with your kids and your wife?
Yeah, I do, of course. My older boy really likes to ride the bike, so we go as often as possible. It is still quite difficult with the younger one as Monaco is quite hilly. We do it more on cycle paths in Italy in the Summer. There, we can really enjoy riding together.