"It felt disrespectful that I had to race in those circumstances" - Time at Astana led Gianni Moscon to consider ending pro career

Gianni Moscon raced 78 race days in 2023 with the Astana Qazaqstan Team but not once finished inside the Top10 of a race. He recalls his time with the Kazakh team quite poorly and admits that he was close to retiring throughout the season.

“I often lose motivation. Sometimes it felt disrespectful that I had to race in those circumstances. I looked like an idiot on TV," Moscon admitted in words to Het Laatste Nieuws. "Everyone saw me getting dropped. And you know how it goes: 'Oh, he's lazy, he doesn't exercise...' But that wasn't true. If you're not in shape you can't join the former, but sometimes I couldn't even follow the latter. I was dropped every day and everyone saw that happen. If you're not used to that, it destroys your morale.”

For some riders it is not too unusual but Moscon, who has in previous years impressed in all kinds of terrains, it was a demolishing routine. The 29-year old struggled after moving out of INEOS Grenadiers, and has since not been able to achieve many results to his name. He became a domestique in the team for the likes of Mark Cavendish and Alexey Lutsenko but was often ill and unable to show himself as he desired.

“Everyone knows that the level in cycling today is very high. You have to be ready, then you can come along. If you don't start the season fit, you can't catch up unless you start again," he tells. "If something goes wrong, responsibility does not always lie with one party. Maybe I could have pushed more. But like I said: I was an employee; I have maximum respect for the people above me. I don't want to blame Astana. They did what they thought was right.”

However, although he does not fully blame Astana, he tells that he was considering hanging up the wheels: “I was close to quitting, yes. I love riding my bike, but the last two years have been so bad... You know, it's easy to be a rider when things are going well. People often asked me if I found all those sacrifices difficult, but I always thought it wasn't too bad. Of course I had to work for it, but that didn't feel like sacrifice. But the past two years: it was all sacrifice, all suffering, and I got nothing in return. It was just frustrating.”

However not all turned bad. The Italian managed to find himself a contract with Soudal - Quick-Step, as Patrick Lefevere bet on a rider who has in the past showed impressive performances in the cobbles. But the team may have more plans for a motivated and possibly reborn Moscon.

“I will be very happy if I can support Evenepoel in the Tour. I'm on the long list," he shares. "In the past I have often been part of the winning Tour team. With my experience I can help Remco. In the middle mountains and on the flat stages. Remco is a fantastic rider and can ride a very nice classification. The podium is a realistic goal."

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