In a few weeks’ time, Lorenzo Germani will start his second season with the Groupama-FDJ Continental team. After a promising transition towards the U23 ranks in 2021, the 19-year-old Italian aims to keep proving his qualities, as he displayed them in his country in the young categories, and is also willing to move up another notch. Let’s get to know him.

“Choose to enter the sea through the small streams,” once wrote Thomas Aquinas. Originally from Roccasecca (Lazio), where the famous churchman, theologian and philosopher was born, Lorenzo Germani now has the sea in sight. However, it is indeed through small streams that his journey has taken shape over the past ten years. To find the source, we need to go back to a time when the young boy was barely nine years old and decided to give up football. “I was not a champion,” he explains. “I wasn’t very good at it, it wasn’t for me, so I thought it was better to change sports.” He tried swimming, but the turning point came with his father’s contribution. “He had only started cycling for a few months when he suggested that I go with him,” adds Lorenzo. “He did very few amateur races, as he mostly did cycling for fun. Besides, I also had competitions on the weekends, and we couldn’t be in two places at the same time. From the moment I got on the bike, I never stopped, and I focused on that because I was really enjoying it. Football, then, just came down to a few games with friends”. As for cycling, his learning included the traditional slaloms, short courses and small sprints between the children of the local club. They were only a few considering that cycling is not the most popular sport in this region of Italy. Things became more serious when it entered the U14 category in 2015.

Breaking through on the national scene

After he collected his very first wins around his hometown, Lorenzo Germani joined A.S.D. Civitavecchiese and got the opportunity to race in a much larger perimeter, and in more significant events. “Among the U14, the courses were a bit longer, between thirty and forty kilometres, and it got more exciting,” he says. “When the races started to get longer, and harder, I also started to perform better and win a few more races. I improved little by little, at my own pace”. Across Lazio, Umbria and Abruzzo, the young man scored ten victories during his two years in the category. His potential became obvious, and he got to the U16 category with quite a momentum. With Velosport Ferentino, a club located in his home Province, he kept performing, and this time in Tuscany, Marche, Molise or even Campania. “The first year I won seven times, and the second sixteen times,” he explains. “I was racing all over Italy and I was surely doing good. I wasn’t that strong at first, but over time I also managed to win races in the North. In Italy, we must distinguish the North and Centre-North from the rest. The most important and most difficult races are there. Paradoxically, however, it was more difficult for me to win at home because everyone was staring at me. It was not so much like that in the North. At that age, I was performing well without being overly trained. I was mostly smart in the races and that’s what also allowed me to win a lot”.

However, it was not thanks to opportunism or intelligence that he took the most prestigious victory of his young career at the end of 2018. It was thanks to his legs. In Villadose, Veneto, he was crowned Italian time trial champion. Another shining indicator proved his evolution: he finished second in the general classification of the U16 riders in Italy, also being the first Italien behind the Czech Mathias Vacek. His years in the category proved to be a total success, and he completed them on a high in Les Herbiers in mid-October. He indeed took third on the Chrono des Nations for his very first competition abroad. “It was really cool and interesting”, he recalls. “The result was not bad either considering I suffered cramps for the last two kilometres. I was first in the check-point, but lost some time in the second part. For the record, we warmed up at the Groupama-FDJ bus because our sports director knew a lot of people in the team, especially because Samuele Manfredi was about to join the Conti. I don’t know if that was a sign, but as a U16, it was a big emotion to find myself in a professional environment”. Though it was not the only story of the day. At the end of the time trial, he lost second place for only half a second to… Eddy Le Huitouze, whom he will meet again in 2022 under the Conti’s jersey. At that point, and despite his strong résumé, Lorenzo Germani was still down to earth. For him, there was still a long way to go before reaching the sea.

“Necessary” moving-away and reduced seasons

“Actually, I think my goal was to turn pro from the moment I started cycling,” he says. “When I start something, I always want to aim for the highest possible. In this sport, the highest is to turn pro. When I was younger, I also followed cycling on the internet, on TV, and I was really fascinated by the professional world. I wanted to be there as well. Therefore, the U16 years did not change anything in my mind, because it’s still a young age and we do not know how it can go. I think it gets more indicative from the Juniors. Personally, I was just focused on doing the best I could, doing things right, without training too much or doing things too precise. I believe that at this age it is very important to keep having fun”. This did not prevent the young Italian from being ambitious, and from having clear ideas of what he wanted to do next. In order to achieve his goal, he therefore had to change the stream. More specifically, he moved five hundred kilometres away to the north, joining the Junior team of Work Service Romagnano in Massa, Tuscany. For him, it was above all an opportunity. “It was necessary, because as I said before, cycling is not a very developed sport in my region,” he explains. “I preferred to join this club, change city and continue to improve. The team’s calendar and organization were perfect for my development”. Being barely 16 years old, he suddenly found himself far away from his parents and relatives. He confesses having gone through a few “difficult” times, but also expresses his gratitude to the club managers for constantly supporting him, and describes it as “an important life experience”.

However, his sporting expectations endured a setback as soon as he entered the Juniors category. On January 9, 2019, Lorenzo crashed heavily on a training ride and fractured his right femur. Consequently, he missed the first months of competition and struggled to regain his best shape when he returned, although he netted three victories in the second half of the season. “I also suffered from a lesion to the other leg and that was a big problem for me during the season,” he adds. “I never managed to perform at a very high level. I was able to achieve some results at the end of the year, but nothing more. It’s not what I had hoped for when I started the season”. A great memory remains nonetheless. On June 9, five months to the day after his accident, he returned to the spotlight winning the Ciociarissima, on home soil and in front of his family. That year, he also wore the Squadra Azzurra jersey for the first time at the LMV Saarland Trofeo in Germany and finished eighth in the Italian time trial championship. This being said, it still was a vengeful state of mind that was driving him ahead of the 2020 season, during which he aimed to confirm his potential. “I was really motivated for my second year junior, I had done a good, sharp preparation, but as we were about to start the season, the Covid came”, he reports. “Psychologically, it was difficult for me, especially after my tough first season. I was demotivated, upset, but continued to train on the rollers. I was so happy when we were able to resume later”.

“When I first came to Besançon, I was really impressed”

Happy, and motivated again. In the remaining months of racing, Lorenzo Germani took two victories but also performed very well in the national championships. He took a very decent fifth place in the time trial, but especially came very close to the title in the road race, as he was just defeated in a two-man sprint for the win. “I was gutted”, he recalls. “The championship was organized by my team, I knew the course well, and if the climb had been a little longer, I probably could have done better … Well, it was still not bad”. The 2020 season quickly loomed, which meant the U23 category as far as he was concerned. Having completed high school, the Italian rider yearned for an experience abroad in order to continue his development. However, the very short season and the cancellation of many international events made it difficult for young riders to display their qualities. “Besides, the first year Juniors was not easy for me personally,” he points out. “In the end, we managed to find a spot in the Conti and I am really happy that we could make it happen”. From October already, he got to know his new environment. “It was amazing,” he says. “When I came to Besançon for the first time, I was really impressed by the structure, the organization, the equipment… By everything, actually! I never would have imagined that. There are no such organizations in Italy, and I was obviously very happy with my choice. Here, you are certainly not in the WorldTour, but I don’t think there are many teams like ours. It’s a chance to be here”.

Thanks to a first experience far from the family home, and despite a move beyond the borders, the 18-year-old Italian had a relatively smooth adjustment in Franche-Comté and within quite an international team. His English and French were still imperfect, but the progress was fast and obvious – so much so that he now tells his journey in the language of Molière. “At first it was cool and difficult at the same time, but mostly it was cool,” he smiles. “I enjoyed learning from others, but also learning from the classes the team offered us. And then training with my teammates, going to the races, it was just all great”. The races, precisely. As a first year U23, Lorenzo showed up there as a teammate most of the time, sometimes for the sprinters, sometimes for the climbers. It also fitted perfectly with his own desire to learn. “When I started the season, my goal was to improve, I didn’t want to look too much at my results,” he describes. “I had only one thing in mind: to improve, to work, and to do what the team asked me to do. This is also my job. At first, it was not easy though. The year before, we had raced little, and over quite short distances. This year, I started doing longer, harder races, some stage races, and I paid for it at the end of May. I was so exhausted that I was sometimes rubbish in the races. However, I managed to recover, I took my coach’s advice and had a good second half of the season for my first year U23.”

Attacking, his philosophy as a cyclist

The Italian even managed to achieve significant personal results in the Tour du Pays de Montbéliard, not far from the team headquarters. Eleventh on the prologue, on the attack and second on stage 2, virtual leader during the third and final stage, he ultimately took second place in the general classification. “I was in a really good shape and motivated,” he says. “It was actually possible to win, but things did not go my way this time. It’s always important to have results, not just for myself, but to thank the whole team for what they do for me: I’m talking about the riders, but also about the entire staff. I have learned a lot this year and it has been a very important step for my development. I think that with the experience I gained, I will also be able to avoid some mistakes in the future. The transition went well and I’m happy with myself, with what I did. I haven’t had a lot of results personally, but I think I’ve been an important member for the team”. Nevertheless, he still concluded his first year with the Conti with one deep regret. “I was going even stronger ahead of the last few races of the season, but unfortunately I was injured in a crash in training in mid-September,” he explains. “I was extremely motivated to get results, and as I was getting to the top of my game, I was stopped dead. It’s a shame”.

Since that unfortunate event, the young man has returned to training, which he occasionally shares with his girlfriend, also a member of a development team. He is now looking forward to starting the next season. “I don’t have specific goals, but I want to get results, discover myself a little bit more and keep improving,” he says. “And if there is still work to be done, I will continue to do it.” He also hopes to have other experiences with the WorldTour team, having already been able to ride the Mont Ventoux Dénivelé Challenge this year, and to define his profile a little more precisely. “A year ago, it was still difficult for me to answer that question, but I think it has become a little clearer this season,” he said. “I like hilly races, with hard finals. I like climbs, but not too long ones, although I can climb well when I’m in good shape. In 2021, it was not amazing in terms of time trial (10th at the Italian championship, editor’s note), but I think I can improve in that area because it is a discipline that I really liked in the U16 and juniors categories”. On the bike anyway, his philosophy is all about attacking. One can notice it quite easily with his favourite hashtag on social media, #StayAggressivo, or with the fact he particularly likes riders such as Tim Wellens and Thomas De Gendt. “They do not think too much”, supports the Italian, who dreams of the Tour of Flanders and the Giro. “Otherwise, I don’t have a favourite rider. I admire all of the riders because I know how difficult cycling is”. And that each one of them has made, just like him, this long journey from the source to the sea. Through small streams.

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