Stefano Cecchini from Lucca recorded the fastest Strava times on the Gavia Pass and Rombo Pass (under his Strava name 'Cecco - LaBagarre.it'), and the second fastest at four minutes behind Marcel Wyss (IAM Cycling) on the Stelvio Pass.
He was just one minute slower than Vincenzo Nibali's Giro d'Italia time on the Passo Giau. The times impress given that he only seriously began cycling in 2011.
"In the last three years, I've won 10 [gran fondos], all of the important ones," he told La Gazzetta dello Sport newspaper.
"I already live the life of a pro. If I didn't do so, I wouldn't even win one gran fondo. Maybe I'm an idiot to train so much, six days a week and on the rollers, but I like riding so much."
His typical week involves 20 hours on his bike, adding up to 32,000 to 33,000 kilometres in a year.
Cycling has always been in his family. His father, Doctor Luigi Cecchini, trained under EPO king Francesco Conconi and has been associated with doping cases and banned cyclists.
"If someone talks of doping, my response is clear," Stefano Cecchini said. "They can come and test me when they want. I have nothing to hide. And whoever doesn't believe in my times can check Strava.
"It all began this summer in Livigno. A WorldTour team, one of the biggest, came calling after they saw the time that I rode up the Giau on the Wednesday before the Maratona dles Dolomites. I was only one minute off of Nibali's time in the Giro. They tested me on three climbs, got my data, but then after that, it went quiet because they were afraid of the name I bring.
"Teams Nippo-Vini Fantini and Androni were interested, but they are afraid it will cost them their [wildcard] invitations to race the Giro d'Italia. Now, I'm dealing with one top Professional Continental team and one foreign WorldTour team."
Cycling’s oldest WorldTour professional next 2017 season will be Svein Tuft (Orica-BikeExchange), 39.
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Gregor Brown is an experienced cycling journalist, based in Florence, Italy. He has covered races all over the world for over a decade - following the Giro, Tour de France, and every major race since 2006. His love of cycling began with freestyle and BMX, before the 1998 Tour de France led him to a deep appreciation of the road racing season.
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