Matteo Tosatto signs up for his 20th season as a professional and explains how cycling has changed over the past two decades

Matteo Tosatto shows no signs of wanting to hang up his wheels, despite approaching his 20th season in the professional peloton.

The Italian veteran has just extended his contract at Tinkoff-Saxo for another year, during which he will turn 42 years old.

Tinkoff’s youngest rider, Michal Kolar, was just four years old when Tosatto made his professional debut with MG Maglificio – Technogym in 1997 – with the then 23 year old making his Tour de France bow in the same year.

Since then, the Italian has completed 26 Grand Tours, with at least one three week race finished in each of the last 14 seasons and two completed in each of the last six years.

Indeed, Tosatto was part of Alberto Contador’s entourage when he won the Giro d’Italia this May and also helped guide the Spaniard to Vuelta a España glory in both 2012 and 2014.

“There has been a huge change in professional cycling in the last 20 years,” said on signing his latest contract. “It requires much more sacrifices now and no matter what race you take part in, the peloton has a very high level of preparation.

“There has been a tremendous evolution as well in the technical aspects and there is an unprecedented attention even to the smallest details in materials, clothing down to sunglasses and helmets.”

“Twenty years ago going to a wind tunnel was unheard of, while now one of the first things you do early in the season is to find your optimal aero position on the bike by carrying out wind tunnel tests.

“The way we race as well has changed. In the past, riders had more freedom while now we follow a much stricter tactical plan and we are in constant contact with the sport directors, at least in the major races.”

You don’t have to look back very far to find a rider in the pro peloton who was older than Tosatto, with Jens Voigt calling time on his career when he was 43 and Chris Horner won the Vuelta in 2013 at the age of 42.

Tinkoff-Saxo have a very experienced roster, with Ivan Basso (37), Michael Rogers (35), Danielle Benatti (35), Evgeni Petrov (37), Sergio Paulinho (35) all over the age of 35.

With Contador – himself 32 – reportedly targeting both the Tour de France and Vuelta a España in 2016, Tosatto looks set to have another busy season.

  • Lex Nederlorf is 49/50

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    Davide Rebellin is 44.