The Trek-Segafredo sprinter embraces refound ambition for the 2021 season
One year ago, February 7, 2020, the promising season of Matteo Moschetti – which had commenced a few days before in Mallorca with two successes in two races – was abruptly interrupted. On that day, he was racing Stage 3 of Etoile de Bessèges, and with 15 kilometers remaining, Matteo was involved in a nasty crash.
The pain was heavy. Although Matteo never lost consciousness, he was unable to get up. At the local hospital, the first diagnosis revealed a fracture of the acetabulum (the socket of the hip bone into which the head of the femur fits) and right femur dislocation. Two days later, he was transferred to Italy, where he was also diagnosed with other fractures (scapula, ribs and micro-fractures of few vertebrae). But what was worrying most was the pelvis area, which required surgery and a long recovery. These were intense days for Matteo and those who were at his side.
From one moment to the next, I had swapped celebrating victories with laying in a hospital bed, with my pelvis immobilized and without autonomy.
“When I think back to those days, I don’t forget how many times I wondered if I would ever go back racing,” tells the Trek-Segafredo sprinter. “My morale had dropped from a thousand to zero in the span of a very short time. From one moment to the next, I had swapped celebrating victories with laying in a hospital bed, with my pelvis immobilized and without autonomy. I was discouraged.
“Then, five days later, I had surgery. I clearly remember Dr. Arduini’s words confirming the positive outcome. We started talking about recovery time, rehabilitation. It was the flash at the end of the tunnel, the light that drove away the darkest thoughts from my head.”
The smile returned to Matteo’s face. The road to recovery was long but, at least, mapped out. It was just a matter of patience and strength, especially mental.
“I started my journey by accepting what had happened. I’m not superstitious, I don’t believe in luck, but I think there is a destiny for everyone. The accident was part of mine. I started my recovery by setting myself very simple goals, like walking or putting on socks myself. Every little gesture gave me huge satisfaction and helped me get through the most complicated days, the ones with the lowest morale.”
“As professional athletes, we’re used to going full gas, focused on performances, results, and career. But I had to stop, so my days were passing slowly, and my mind was free. In those moments, it was inevitable that I asked myself questions to re-evaluate things that I previously took for granted. I was able to pass through this time well thanks to those who were supporting me daily.”
The months passed, and Matteo’s recovery was ahead of schedule. In the first post-lockdown race, the Vuelta a Burgos, in late July, Matteo again pinned a race number on his back. One hundred and seventy days since Feb. 7.
“The first impact was emotional, but it took me a short time to realize that I was only halfway to my full recovery. A lot of people were telling me how important it was to be back in the peloton, and it was so true. I was happy for this, but in my mind, I wanted to go beyond, to set a new goal: being competitive again. From that day forward, the road for me was only uphill. I always felt a level below the rest of the group. I was struggling and trudging. Mentally it wasn’t easy, but I knew I had to push on.”
On October 25, during Stage 7 of the Vuelta a Espana, Matteo reached the finish line outside of the allowed time limit. His race and season were officially over, but on the horizon, there was already new hope.
“After the Vuelta a España, I focused only on the future. I had a good off-season preparation, as I hoped and wanted. I feel that something is still missing to get to 100% of my potential, to aim for victory. But today, a year later, I can finally talk again about competitive goals. On Thursday, February 11, I’ll make my 2021 debut at Tour de la Provence, then I’ll ride UAE Tour. I will need some more time to fine-tune the form, but I’ll have an important test to really understand where I’m at.”
“The next step will be getting back to win. For me, there’s no better way to regain full confidence than raising my arms to the sky. That’s the real goal for my season start: winning and proving that I am back. The next goal will come as a consequence, that is earning a place for the most important races, above all the Giro d’Italia.”
Although it is not hard for Matteo to remember the difficulties and fears of this past year, the desire to focus on what is to come prevails over everything.
“Compared to how the journey’s been so far, I hope I have a less curvy path ahead of me. I don’t feel sorry for myself, but sometimes I think about the passed time and the missed opportunities. And as a professional, unfortunately due to crashes, there were too many. I lacked the continuity that, for a young rider, is essential to accumulate fatigue, experience and increase the threshold of resistance to effort.”
“In my head there is always the ambition to establish myself as a top sprinter, first in the team and then in the WorldTour circus. That’s where I want to be. If I look around, I see a lot of strong sprinters and fast riders, with a podium composed by Caleb Ewan, Sam Bennett and Arnaud Demare, the strongest and most consistent riders in the last season. Beating one of these would be my personal consecration.”