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An interview with Guido Trenti
Guido Trenti was a surprise inclusion in USA Cycling's roster for the Zolder World's, but in six years as a pro on the Italian scene this dual citizen has earned his stripes, as Tim Maloney discovered.
There's a popular Italian aperitivo called "Americano", it's a mix of sweet & bitter vermouth. But for "American-Italian" Guido Trenti, to be selected to represent the USA at the upcoming World Professional Road championship in Zolder, Belgium is only sweet, not bitter.
The 29 year old Trenti holds dual Italian / American citizenship and rides for the Acqua & Sapone team. Cyclingnews sat down with the red haired, freckle-faced rider last weekend at his home in Bassano de Grappa, Italy and got better acquainted with this modest, likeable pro.
Cyclingnews: We remember seeing you in the Giro d'Italia this year when the race went right through your hometown on the stage to Folgaria.
Guido Trenti: Yeah, my town is called Dro; just north of Lago di Garda. I was the "regionale" that day; I stopped to say hello to my mom and dad that day… when you are the "regionale", you can stop and say hello to your family, but that day it was hard to stop for long. It was too fast!
CN: Is Dro where you grew up?
GT: Well I was born in Milano but I grew up in Dro.
CN: Tell us more about Guido Trenti
GT: We moved to Dro when I was a kid…my mom; her name is Cynthia Taylor and she's from Boston. She came to Italy as a tourist with her sister to see all the sights and stuff and she met my Dad by chance and then they fell in love…it was love at first sight. So her sister went back alone and when my grandmother saw that only one of her daughters had come back, she was pretty surprised! After that, my mom and dad got married and they lived in Milano for three years because my dad was working there. Eventually I was born and then we moved back to Dro when I was two. I've always held dual citizenship since I was a kid; my mother wanted to make sure of that. Sure I grew up in Italy, but my mom talked about America a lot so us kids would know about that side of our background. I especially liked Christmastime since we would have a roast turkey like my mom learned to make back in Boston.
My mom also has a completely different mentality than an Italian and so we were brought up with her influence as an American.
Our family didn't travel back to America that much; when we were kids, it was really expensive back then to buy the plane tickets for all five of us to go. My dad was a science teacher before he retired and we didn't have a lot of money. But my aunt comes over with my cousins and when she was still alive, my grandmother Taylor used to come over to visit us in Dro.
CN: How did you start racing?
GT: My dad was a racer; he loves cycling, so in Dro, there is a little local club and my Dad was in the club. He would take the kids around every weekend to train and race, me and my brother and sister included. My dad has a lot of passion for cycling. So I raced all over northern Italy and won a number of races, then after I turned junior, I raced for a bigger club in a town near me. In Italy, since military service is compulsory, I had to do my year and a half, but since I was a good enough rider, I was assigned to a sports battalion in Padova.
CN: So you continued to race after your military service?
GT: Yes; I joined the Prodet team in '94, with Gilberto Simoni. We had one of the best teams in Italy at that time, and I moved to Bassano del Grappa from Trento, since that's where Prodet was located. Then in 1996 I turned pro in a small team, Ros Mary which was managed by Marino Basso, but that didn't go so well.
CN: What happened?
GT: Well, my goal was to be a pro cyclist, and that was great that I even made it for a while, but when Basso stopped paying me and the other riders in the middle of the season, it was not what I expected. I wanted to ride, but not for free! So I stopped racing and in '97, I went back to being amateur for one more season on the Zalf-Fior team. If I got a new pro contract, great! I had another good season and in '98, I turned pro again, but this time for good with the Cantina Tollo-Alexia Alluminio team. I've been with the same team ever since.
CN: How was it riding as a pro again? Are you satisfied with your career?
GT: Well, in '98, it was not so hard to make a transition back since I had been a pro before. I finished the Vuelta and had a top three stage finish in the Tour of Portugal. In '99, I improved a lot, with a top three stage finish in Paris-Nice and finished the Giro d'Italia. In 2000, I had my first pro win in Malaysia (Stage 9 / Tour Of Langkawi) which was a major satisfaction for me. Then I was 2nd and 5th in stages of the Giro and finished again, plus I finished the Vuelta, so it helped build my strength even more.
CN: You had a big breakthrough as a rider in 2001, winning a stage of the Vuelta a Espana.
GT: Yes, that was special for me. My grandmother Trenti had died a few days before and I wanted to come home for the funeral. I was close to her, but my dad talked me out of it and told me it was more important to continue. So when I won, [Stage 19 / Cuenca-Guadalajara] it was a special moment and I was able to dedicate the win to her memory.
Otherwise, I had my best season ever in 2001. I was 12th in Milano-San Remo, 20th in Tour of Flanders and had a pretty good Giro and just before the Vuelta, I was 2nd in the Giro di Friuli.
CN: How have things changed with Cipollini on the Aqua & Sapone team now?
GT: This year, the team was more organized with Mario. He brought some people with him and he has very definite ideas of what he wants. Even though we won six stages at the Giro this year, Mario was upset when he lost. He's never satisfied with second place. I've learned a lot from him, but next year, I'm changing to another team. I can't say which one yet, but it is one of the top Italian teams.
CN: There has been some controversy about your selection to the US team for the world championships.
GT: Yes I heard that and I'd respond to that by saying I've had my USA Cycling license for six years already. It's not like I tried to get into the Italian team and didn't succeed so I took out an American one. I've always wanted to ride for the American team. When I go to Belgium, the USA Cycling staff will tell me what they want me to do, but I understand my role will be to help Fred Rodriguez. He's a very fast sprinter and has a good chance to do something at the Worlds.
As far as me leading out Cipo, a few journalists and the Italian TV has already brought this up. I'm going to race in the same race, but with a different jersey. I've been a pro for six years and my job in the Worlds is to do what USA Cycling says, not anything else. All I can say is just see what happens in the World Championships. There will be some meetings with the USA Cycling people when I go to Zolder and I'll get the specific direction from them what to do in the race.
CN: Why did you take out a USA Cycling license and not an Italian one?
GT: Ever since I turned pro in 1996, I've had a USA Cycling license. Sure, I realized that I might have a better chance at riding for the USA someday than Italy, but that wasn't the only reason. I was brought up in Italy, but I have also been brought up with a special feeling to be an American. For a long time, it seemed like no one in the US federation even knew who I was. Even last year I think I could have done well because I was in good shape. So I'm really proud be chosen to represent the USA this year.
CN: How have you been preparing for the Worlds?
GT: Since I left the Vuelta, I've been working really hard. Saturday I did 210km and Sunday I did almost 300km; it was an 8 hour ride… both of which I finished off with a motorpace session. I'm a "passista veloce" and when I'm in good shape, like now, I ride well on hills too. Not long climbs, but like in the Tour of Flanders. So the Zolder course is good for me. I've always been a rider who was good in long races. I always seem to get stronger in races over 220km, so with the Worlds at 260km and the flat course, I think I'll be good and do a good job of representing of the United States in the World Championships.