Matteo's potential exposed with an astonishing second place in stage four at the UAE Tour
Matteo Moschetti finished 11th in his first WorldTour sprint in stage two and in stage four, in only his second chance, he came close to stealing the show. Moschetti was the first to jump on the short, steep finish climb to Hatta Dam and looked like he might pilfer the biggest win of his blossoming career. Only Caleb Ewan (Lotto Soudal) was able to come around the 22-year-old Italian, who just held on for second after race leader Primoz Roglic (Jumbo-Visma), hot on his heels, almost overtook him at the line.
“It was not a typical sprint because the final 300 meters was a very steep uphill,” explained Moschetti. “There was a big crash around five kilometers to the finish, but I was safe with Bauke (Mollema) in the front. In the last kilometer, I followed the wheel of Caleb Ewan, and at 150m [to go] I decided to start my sprint. Maybe it was a little bit too early. I think I missed just 10-15 seconds of power. Caleb Ewan is such a strong rider, and I think for my first WorldTour races, it was a really good result.”
With Moschetti’s unexpected result on the steep 17 percent gradient of the Hatta Dam finish, it seems that uphill sprint finishes may become his niche.
“Honestly, I can’t say if I like these kinds of finishes more; I like all sprint finishes, also when it is a little bit uphill like today,” replied Moschetti.“For the moment I try for every finish line where I have my chance, and I will try again tomorrow.”
Matteo has a lot of room for improvement. For sure he will have his future in front, but we stay with the foot on the ground.
It was a remarkable result and Moschetti has wasted little time early into his first WorldTour season in putting his name on the radar.
“What he did today, he showed his qualities,” agreed team director and renowned sprinter Adriano Baffi. “He also showed his personality because it’s not easy to take the first attack for the sprint; it means that he was confident. We watched the film from 2016 when Juan Jose Lobato won against Giacomo [Nizzolo], and he anticipated the turn, and he did the same. He was attentive; what more can we say? It was fantastic what he did: first-year WorldTour pro, first WorldTour race.”
Bauke Mollema also had a noteworthy finish, sprinting to a 10th place finish (+5”), and Niklas Eg (27th place) also arrived in the same time to give Trek-Segafredo the honors of top team for stage four. It was the nice accolade after the team’s solid team effort, including the huge effort from Will Clarke who jumped into the day’s breakaway.
“I am really happy also today because we could relax a little in the peloton because we had Will in the breakaway; I think we had a great day as a team,” added Moschetti.
Moschetti may be an unknown to the WorldTour peloton, but Trek-Segafredo has had an eye on the Italian sprinter for a few years. Moschetti joined the team as a stagiaire in 2017 but went on to sign with UCI Continental team Polartec-Kometa for the 2018 season, the development team supported by Trek-Segafredo. When Moschetti began to stockpile victories – ending with nine for the year – General Manager Luca Guercilena wasted no time in adding the promising sprinter to the roster.
“Matteo lives close to me and I have been working closely with him,” continued Baffi. “He has been improving slowly from when he was a Junior and as a U23 and has yet to show his full potential. It’s why I say he could have a very nice future because for me and for the rest of the management, he has a lot of room for improvement. For sure he will have his future in front, but we stay with the foot on the ground.”
Moschetti is still finding his place in the WorldTour peloton, but his second place amongst some of the biggest names in WorldTour sprinters has likely opened a little more space for the young talent.