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Giro d'Italia

Enrico Gasparotto on winning first grand tour as DS: ‘If you don’t have good actors you will never get the Oscar’

The former rider was one of the brains behind the tactics that saw Bora-Hansgrohe dominate the GC battle at the Giro d'Italia.

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VERONA, Italy (VN) — Bora-Hansgrohe has won its first ever grand tour with Jai Hindley sealing a spectacular victory in the Giro d’Italia on Sunday.

At the beginning of the race, much of the talk was how Ineos Grenadiers and Richard Carapaz may dominate the race, but Bora-Hansgrohe showed across the three weeks that it could be more than a match for the British squad.

A significant moment that stands out from the race was the Turin stage at the end of the second week, a day that will likely go down in Giro d’Italia lore. The 147km stage was ripped apart by Bora-Hansgrohe and blew the GC battle wide open.

One of the architects of the bold plan was Enrico Gasparotto, who joined the team over the winter. Gasparotto has received heaps of praise for his approach to the race, not least from his own riders, but the Italian-Swiss says it would be impossible to do if the team didn’t have the legs.

“As a sport director, part of our role is to bring ideas to the riders, and then we can look really intelligent,” Gasparotto told VeloNews ahead of the final time trial in Verona. “If we talk about movies, it’s important to have a good filmmaker but if you don’t have good actors then you will never get the Oscar.

“It’s easy to work with the riders that we have here because, first of all, they have arrived at the Giro in good shape and, second of all, they trust us, and they have a growing self-confidence day by day and they have showed that with their performances.”

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Gasparotto is relatively new to the role of sport director after retiring from racing at the end of 2020 following a 16-year career. He learned the ropes of the role with the Nippo-Provence-PTS Continental team as well as the Swiss national team and spent time working with Giro d’Italia organizer RCS during the 2021 race.

Along with fellow former rider Bernhard Eisel, Gasparotto joined Bora-Hansgrohe over the winter to bolster its sporting staff.

“It’s my first experience in the WorldTour. I was a sport director at the worlds and the Europeans with the Swiss national team and some races with a Conti team, but this level is another thing, what can I say,” he said. “It’s completely another approach, but also I cannot forget my experience with RCS last year in the Giro as a regulator. I think that gave me a bit more knowledge as to how difficult it can be to organize a race.

“As a sport director, you have to focused on everybody and every vehicle we have at the race. The logistic part takes a lot of energy from me to think about but I’m not alone, we have three sport directors, and we can share the job. It was not bad that we could help each other.”

Not feeling the stress, but definitely feeling the emotion

Despite making his grand tour debut as a DS with a team that was going all in for the general classification, Gasparotto says that he did not feel the pressure. One of the few moments he did let the moment seep in was when the race went into his home region toward the end of the final week.

“At the end of the day I’ve been focused every day on the race and the guys performed at a really high level since the beginning, probably only the last few days when I was back in Friulli, in my region, and that was a bit of an emotional moment. I have had a good tension, not the one that can stress you out or that keeps you up all night. I could stay pretty calm.”

Most of Gasparotto’s actions were behind the scenes but fans got a look behind the curtain when the Giro d’Italia’s social media team posted an eight-minute-long video from inside the Bora-Hansgrohe car during the final kilometers of the key stage 20 finale on the Passo Fedaia.

It’s not for those adverse to swearing as much of it is Gasparotto screaming “you’re a f**king legend” down the team radio. As Hindley gets closer to the finish line, Gasparotto finds it harder and harder to speak as his emotions get the better of him.

He needs co-sport director Jens Zemke to keep him going and talking into Hindley’s ear as he puts a massive gap into Richard Carapaz (Ineos Grenadiers) ahead of the final time trial.

“The TV in the car was not working so it was just on feeling and the information that I got from Radio Tour and our staff at the finish line,” Gasparotto said. “I know that I am a pretty emotional person but that was a big moment. This is my first Giro d’Italia as a sport director and it was such a big moment.

“All the stress that we put on ourselves every day and all the passion that we are putting on ourselves then explodes in the last five minutes.”