Poor, poor Fabio Aru.
It was sad news to read that a rider who won the 2015 Vuelta a Espana and scored two podiums in the Giro d’Italia is now desperately scrounging for a ride next season.
A few years ago Aru seemed poised for a long run of grant tour victories. He was the Next Nibali, the future of Italian cycling, he was set to challenge Froome and Quintana, Roglic and Bernal.
Then all the bad stuff happened and it came like an avalanche. Mystery aliments, inexplicable power outages, untimely crashes, iliac surgery, a death in the family. A jours sans became a whole season sans.
At first it was simply unfortunate but as his troubles continued to pile up, his Director Sportifs turned on him. They castigated him for letting the squad down, his teammates down, with the implication that the real issue wasn’t physical, but mental and emotional. He’d cracked on the road and in the head.
When Aru dropped out of this year’s Tour de France on stage 9, the UAE Emirates Team advisor Giuseppe Saronni punched him when he was already down. “For the umpteenth time Fabio disappointed us, at a time when we needed him so much,” Saronni informed RAI.
What made matters even more tragic was after each disaster, Aru would regather himself and hope for betters days. Yet race after race, he simply couldn’t reach his previous high level of performance. His face was a hound-dog look of misery.
Something was terribly wrong and nobody had the diagnosis or a solution. Aru suffered on and off the bike as critics and armchair experts said he was a mess.
The enduring image is Aru’s long, sad face has he pulls off to the side of the road and abandons another race. DNF — Dispirited, Negative, Failure.
UAE Team Emirates has already cut the Italian loose and there are no WorldTour teams willing to take him on as yet. While he may yet land with a top level squad, right now he’s faced with a humiliating step down with Vini Zabù-Brado-KTM.
Only his former Astana DS Giuseppe Martinelli seems to know what Aru needs. “Start over again with happiness, picking the right team, not for the contract they can guarantee you but the warmth they can give to you,” said Martinelli.
Here’s hoping Fabio Aru finds that warmth and rediscovers his immense talent.