A look at the path that the career of Alberto Loddo has taken, four years after his last profile and interview, as he returns to the headlines in Malaysia.
Since its inception in 2002, several youngsters have enjoyed success on their professional debuts in the warm and wind-swept land of Qatar. Most notably and recently, Greg van Avermaet had a dream start to his career by winning the fifth stage , while Francisco Jose Ventoso took the opening one in 2004. But who was other neo-pro to do it? Back in the event’s first year, it was Alberto Loddo, at the tender age of twenty-three. He’s been back in the headlines this week too, with victories in the Tour of Langkawi, but a hell of ‘a-loddo’ has gone on since we last profiled him in November 2002...
Fresh-faced and victorious in Qatar – Courtesy Lampre
The Sardinian had been one of the brightest talents on the Italian domestic scene, taking eleven victories with Zoccorinese, one of the powerhouses of the amateur circuit. The squad also put riders like Yaroslav Popovych, Lorenzo Bernucci and Giampaolo Caruso through their ranks around the same time. After a quiet rest of the season, he came back Qatar… and won again – not just a stage, but the overall too. With a Volta ao Algarve win in Febuary, things were looking good for Loddo.
However, it emerged last that he’d failed a test for caffeine from the opening stage of the race and was disqualified, banned and fined. After a good spring, his 2003 trailed away from there on in, as he never seemed to recover from the ban he served from mid-April to mid-May.
Five years on, another January victory for Loddo - Courtesy of Circuit de la Sarthe
Moving to Saunier Duval the next year, Loddo had to prove his worth. However, fourth at the Wachovia Classic and a couple of Giro d’Italia top-ten finishes were the best he could muster. With the Spanish team not choosing to renew his contract, the explosive sprinter found himself with no options for 2005, and was left to the amateur circuit once again. Luckily, ever a team manager with a keen eye for ability, Gianni Savio came in and gave the Italian a chance last year with the Selle Italia team. His faith was repaid with six victories: a stage at the Vuelta al Tachira, four in the Vuelta Lider al Sur in Chile and a bunch sprint victory in Europe, at the Circuit de la Sarthe. Moreover, Loddo showed more promise at the Giro d’Italia, finishing third to McEwen and Bettini in the fourth stage and scoring a couple more top ten finishes.
Though sometimes inconsistent in his form, the fiery acceleration and speed are evidently still there. As long as Serramenti PVC Diquigiovanni obtain a wild card to the Giro d’Italia, his talents should be displayed on one of the cycling world’s biggest stages. Now a lot more race-wizened at 28, is it too much to expect a ProTour team to come in for Loddo? Certainly, his performances in Malaysia will not have gone unnoticed and, if the rest of the season is consolidated by solid performances, he could be back on the top rung of the cycling ladder for 2008. However, he will need to prove his worth against better squads and riders on the Italian racing scene on which his team often participates.
November 2001/2002 Interview and Profile
Last November, Fabio published stories about several new riders, including
Lampre's new pro Alberto Loddo. Now that the 2002 season has concluded, we also
take a look at how he did. So we start with a re-print of Fabio's November 2001
article, and then Andrew McDobbin takes a look at Loddo's first pro season.
Lampre's "Rookie" Antonio Loddo: Portrait and interview
November 2001: For the joy of Lampre-Daikin's fans, it's now time to talk about
new signings of the team who are going to make their debut in the pro scene in
2002. Starting from one of Italy's most promising riders, 22-year-old sprinter
Alberto Loddo. The man from Capoterra (Sardinia, a region not frequently
metioned in cycling matters), born on January, 5, 1979, comes from an
"explosive" season with "superpowerful" Zoccorinese-Vellutex. He got 11 wins,
mainly in the first part of the year, including the Coppa San Geo (opening race
of 2001) , the GP Soprazocco, a stage at Tour of Riviera delle Palme, the GP
Padula Open, the Tre Provincie, Balestra, GP Taschini, GP Centro Borgo and
especially the GP Liberazione, one of the most important amateur races in Italy,
traditionally held in Rome on the 25th of April.
A very successful year, even more than the previous one, when he got 7
victories. But now big challenges with the big names of the peloton are waiting
for him. What does Alberto think about them? He expressed his point of view
while talking to "Gazzetta dello Sport.
Q: Alberto, big challenges are waiting for you and the other "rookie" at
Lampre, Manuel Quinziato, aren't they?
A: Yes, they are. And I hope these big challenges will give me big
Q: Some say making his debut in a big team could be a double-sided weapon for
A: True. But not in Lampre-Daikin's case. Tonkov and Rumsas will be the
team's captains. But I am convinced there will be room for everybody.
Q: Could you express a wish, what would you ask to 2002?
A: An early victory at my debut. Like I was used to do among the amateurs.
You just need to find the right sprint. But the most important thing will be
making experience. Of course being a protagonist in some sprints would be a big
satisfaction to me. Even better if I could win any of them, even in small "open"
[Ed. note: according to "Gazzetta dello Sport", Loddo could make his
"unofficial" debut with the Lampre jersey at an "open" race, held in an Arabic
country at the end of January].
Q: Seems you want to start fast, as sprinters usually do; they are accustomed
to give it all at the beginning of the season.
A: Yes, sprinters may find a good condition early, and I'd like to start fast
so that I could get some of the satisfactions I got in 2001.
Q: How are you working now, in order to get good results right from the
A: I started training about two weeks ago. I ride six times a week, from
about one hour and a half to about two and a half hours, working a lot on my
agility and pedalling frequency, and using a fixed gear. On Saturdays, I train
on a 5-km. climb; and don't forget gymnastics, three times a week.
Q: And what about the coming years? What are your perspectives? Is there any
rider you would take as a model, whose steps you'd like to follow?
A: Well, I've always been a big fan of Gianni Bugno, but if you are talking
about current riders, more similar to me, I would definitely say Erik Zabel is
Q: Zabel is also a champion of regularity. So tell us about your own
regularity. How many months are you going to ride for in 2002? And for how long
do you think you will be in top shape?
A: In 2001 I started winning in February and my last victory was in August,
even if during both September and October I often managed to finish in the TOP 5
places. As for next year, let's wait and see what happens. I hope everything
will go well, and I may be able to repay Saronni, Algeri and all the guys at
Lampre for the confidence they had in me.
Q: What do you think about the other Lampre's rookie, Manuel Quinziato?
A: I know him well, I've ridden with him in the national team. He always
helped me. He's a great guy...
Q: And if you weren't a cyclist...
A: It's not easy to answer... At the age of 17 I had this opportunity to move
to Lombardia and start racing, and I took it without thinking twice. If I had
stayed in Sardinia, perhaps I would be a carpenter, who knows ...
Alberto Loddo - A look at his 2002 season
14 November 2002: After
an impressive 2001 season with Zoccorinse-Vellutex in which he bagged 11 wins,
the 23 year old sprinter Alberto Loddo continued his speedy climb up the pro
cycling stairway by transferring to Lampre-Daikin for the 2002 season.
by Andrew McDobbin
Loddo’s season started early in late January at the Tour of Qatar (ranked 2.3
by the UCI) and in the first two stages he finished 13th and 25th as bunch
sprints ensued. In Stage 3, he was dropped and came home 1’11 behind. Loddo got
into a break (which included the likes of pre-ban Jan Ullrich, Johan Museeuw and
Didier Rous) of 30 and then sprinted home to take a brilliant victory – his
first as a pro. This result also rocketed him up the GC into the Top 30. However
in the 5th and final stage, Loddo crashed and was unable to continue. Still, it
was a remarkable achievement for the young Italian to snatch a win so early on
in the season, and it was also what he had wished for. However, the rest of his
season did not continue as it began...
Loddo is clearly considered to be a great talent, as he was entered in many
races during the season such as Ruta Ciclista del Sol (UCI 2.3), the 4 Days of
Dunkirk, the returning Tour de Belgique (2.3), Ronde van Nederland (2.1) and the
Volta a Portugal (2.3). He also competed in the semi-classics Gent -Wevelgem and
the ‘Hell of the North’ Paris-Roubaix over the vicious pave of Northern France.
However none of these stage races warranted many notable results, as the young
Italian was dropped on many occasions. He was also very unlucky on many
occasions, not finishing on the final stages of the Tour de Belgique, 4 Days of
Dunkirk and the Ronde van Nederland. Still, he finished 19th on the first stage
of the Ruta Ciclista del Sol, but crashed out in one of the forthcoming stages.
This season was evidently a learning curve for Loddo, at one of the top pro
teams. He worked tirelessly as a domestique for more experienced sprinters such
as Jan Svorada and Ludo Dierckxsens. His end of season UCI ranking of 1222th
equal hardly did justice to all the hard work and effort the Sardinian has put
in throughout this season. For a rider of his age, things can only (and surely
will) improve as he gets older and gets more races under his belt. If the staff
at Lampre-Daikin can nurture Loddo, I think he will become a very good sprinter.
As good as Cipollini? Only time will tell.
Riding since 1989
Professional in 2002
GP Citta’ di Napoli
Coppa San Geo
GP Caduti di Soprazocco
1st Stage of the Giro Rivera Ligue delle Palme
Trofeo Franco Balestra
Giro delle Tre Province
4th Stage of the Tour of Qatar
8 Stage 1b Settimana Coppi-Bartali