Vuelta a Espana

Meet Froome’s newest super domestique, Gianni Moscon

Once thought to be a classics specialist, Gianni Moscon is proving himself as a strong climbing domestique at the Vuelta.

SAGUNT, Spain (VN) — Gianni Moscon rode in the lead group and placed fifth in Paris-Roubaix this spring, but the 23-year-old Italian is discovering his climbing legs working for Chris Froome in the Vuelta a España this week.

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Moscon blasted the peloton to bits in the first mountain stages so far in Ancona and Wednesday to Santa Lucía in Alcossebre. Froome, who had to tell him to slow down, said that he has been “incredibly impressive” and “is doing an amazing job” in his first grand tour.

“I just think I’m the same rider as before, but maybe I’ve never raced these type of races, and I haven’t been able to yet show myself,” Moscon told VeloNews.

“We are still in the first week and the long climbs have yet to arrive. I think that these climbs that we’ve had so far been suited to my characteristics. Short and explosive. Let’s see how it goes in the upcoming climbs with like Sierra Nevada.”

Moscon’s effort Wednesday paved the way for Froome to split the group to only himself, Alberto Contador (Trek-Segafredo), Michael Woods (Cannondale-Drapac), Esteban Chaves (Orica-Scott), and Tejay van Garderen (BMC Racing).

A similar move in Andorra, stage 2, paved the way for Froome to take the red leader’s jersey. That day, Froome was being distanced, and he asked Moscon to slow his pace-making.

After the last two spring campaigns, which included 15th in the Ronde van Vlaanderen and fifth in Paris-Roubaix this year when he was still 23 years old, it appeared Moscon’s career path would be in one-day races. Now, Sky’s boss David Brailsford says that he would even consider taking Moscon to the Tour de France to help Froome try to win his fifth title in 2018.

“Yeah who knows about next year, but I want to make the classics a priority at the start of my season,” Moscon added. “I would have time to recover and prepare well for the Tour afterwards. But let’s see. It would for sure be a great experience.”

‘Il Trattore’ or ‘The Tractor’ grew up in the apple farms north of Trento in Trentino that produced Francesco Moser and Gilberto Simoni. Fausto Pinarello knew him and called Sky sports director Dario Cioni so that Cioni could take note. Sky followed Pinarello’s advised and signed Moscon for the 2016 season.

Racing already in the amateur ranks, he had an indication that he could climb well. He sat fifth overall in the Tour l’Avenir in 2015 before tendentious forced him to abandon. Marc Soler, who races for Movistar now and placed third in the Vuelta’s stage 5, won the overall that year.

His career could follow the same path as Sky’s Welshman Geraint Thomas, who rode so well in the classics and then made the switch to grand tour rider. “I can do well in both of them right now,” Moscon added. “Right now, though, I’m more concentrated on the classics.”