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Pro rider rips up 2022 contract to become full-time potter

Nicola Bagioli had a contract for 2022 but he's decided to give it all up to follow his other passion, soapstone pottery, and build his burgeoning business.

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A career change from professional cyclist to pro potter is a unique one, but it’s the one that Nicola Bagioli is about to make.

The 26-year-old Italian rider, who is the elder brother of Andrea Bagioli, announced in an Instagram post that he’s going to swap cranks for chisels (and other tools) to focus on his burgeoning soapstone pottery business with his partner Arianna.

It’s a move that Bagioli, who had to persuade his B&B Hotels p/b KTM team to let him out of his contract a year early, admits is a bit left-field but one he’s fully committed to.

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“I arrived at a moment in my life in which I have to choose, in which I have to make an important decision and so I decided to choose with my heart, to make a choice that many may consider crazy, but which for me represents following a dream, my passion,” Bagioli said in his Instagram post.

“I decided to get off the bike, to end my career as a professional cyclist and terminate the contract I had with my team and to dedicate myself 100 percent to Lavéc. From now on I will be a craftsman and I will live by that, continuing to grow this reality together with Arianna, to make this wonderful world of soapstone processing more and more known and to enhance an ancient tradition.”

Bagioli has been a pro rider since 2016, stepping up to Pro Continental level [now known as ProTeam] with the Nippo-Vini Fantini team. Among his best performances are podium places at the Trofeo Laigueglia and the Ronde van Drenthe, both in 2019, and the mountains classification at the 2019 Tirreno-Adriatico.

His decision to take up pottery full-time isn’t as odd as it might sound at first.

Bagioli comes from five generations of soapstone potters — which started with his great grandfather — but his father Roberto gave up the craft following the death of his own father, Renzo. Bagioli — who has a degree in mechanics — took it up as a hobby at first before, learning from his father, before setting up the Lavéc company in 2019.

“I want to thank all those who have supported me over the years, the teams who believed in me, all the people who cheered me on the roadside (and maybe even gave me a push on some tough climbs), all the teammates that I have had and all the people who have shared with me the joys and hardships of cycling,” Bagioli said.

“I want to thank my latest team, B&B Hotels p/b KTM for supporting me in the best way this year (and also for teaching me a little French) and for accepting my choice with great serenity.”

Having made a major life decision to give up one career in pursuit of building another, Bagioli doesn’t know what the future holds for him but he’s looking forward to finding out.

“What will await me? I don’t know, but I will certainly face it with the determination, constancy, and sacrifice that the bike has taught me in all these years,” he said. “Together with Arianna we are chasing a dream, we are building a small but great reality with our hands, and now we could do it even more, even better.”