Astana's Davide Martinelli has swapped the pro peloton for bike couriering, delivering food and medicines to the elderly in his home village who can't get out due to the coronavirus lockdown.
There are no shops or a pharmacy in the Italian village of Lodetto, near Brescia in Lombardy, and so the pro cyclist has been riding to the nearby town of Rovato, and picked up medicine for an elderly couple on Wednesday.
"It all started thanks to a group of Lodettesi boys including my cousin Stefano," Martinelli wrote on Instagram, picked up by Tuttobici, "who organised themselves for the delivery of medicines and food to people, especially the elderly, who do not have the opportunity to go to Rovato to buy them.
"I have heard various stories that have touched me, people unable to get out but thanks to these volunteers have solved their problems! Over the years I have received so much from my community but I hardly had a chance to repay because of the life that often leads me to be away from home.
"I am very attached to my Lodetto, a community of just over 1,500 people, where unfortunately there is neither a pharmacy nor a grocery store! It is my chance to make myself useful and repay the many people who have always supported me over the years, and helping those who need it right now."
Martinelli last raced in the Volta ao Algarve at the end of February and says that he is currently lacking form, which is not necessarily a problem as it is not yet known when racing will return. However, helping with the deliveries got him outside to do a 10km ride in a time of 30 minutes.
"I have a bike, two legs, which are now not very trained and a backpack, and nothing to do. Therefore, I had the honour of being able to go to the pharmacy to collect medicines for an elderly couple, in total 30 minutes and about 10km, nothing special for an athlete but when I delivered them to her door, obviously with due precautions (mask and gloves) I felt good, which still echoes in my head," Martinelli said.
"I am the happiest man in the world, cycling is beautiful, everything is beautiful, but being useful to others is priceless. As the president of my fan club said, the late Don Ettore Piceni: 'In Lodetto there is no pharmacy and there are no shops but there is a united and strong communication. Let's prove it once more! If you can do something for others, do it, the satisfaction will be enormous!'"
The Italian has continued couriering over the next few days, posting videos to his Instagram story showing himself out on delivery.
"I've just left for Duomo, the district near my house where I'll collect drugs from the pharmacy that I have to deliver to Rovato, and then I'll collect drugs from Rovato that I need to deliver to a person in Lodetto," Martinelli said.
Chris Froome expressed his appreciation for the former Deceuninck - Quick-Step rider's altruism, saying: "Good job Davide Martinelli. Great to read stories like this in such sad times."
Other members of WorldTour teams have also been pitching in to help their communities during the pandemic. Israel Start-Up Nation's team physician Dr Maurizio Piombo is one of four doctors on the squad who have started making house calls on patients and setting up makeshift testing centres in Italy, France and Germany.
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