This year, Moreno Moser wants to confirm the hopes pinned on him in 2012. After an impressive debut season, team Cannondale's 23-year-old and nephew of Francesco suffered last year. He said that must change.
"I think that everyone expects something this year above all after my first season went so well," Moser told Cycling Weekly. "They wanted to see that confirmed [in 2013]. I thought I'd do better and the others thought I'd do better, as well. One year of crisis is OK but not two."
In 2012, 21-year-old Moser won two stages and the Tour of Poland overall and one-day races Trofeo Laigueglia and Eschborn-Frankfurt. Last year, he won once. He shot free into Siena to win Strade Bianche. He also placed third behind Christophe Riblon and Tejay van Garderen on Alpe d'Huez at the Tour de France.
"I was always up and down," he added. "Some days I'd go well and some days I couldn't. I wasn't consistent."
Building a base
Moser spent Christmas and his birthday at home in Trento. He looked forward to it after last winter. A nose operation bettered his breathing but delayed his 2013 preparations.
"I forced myself too much to return when I needed to relax. I gained condition quickly but I was unable to maintain it. I felt that I was a little behind and I made a few errors," said Moser.
"Maybe one of the reasons that I was never able to find great condition was because I didn't have a big base. This winter, I'm trying to correct that."
Moser starts his season next week in Argentina at the Tour de San Luis. He continues with the Dubai Tour, the Tour of Oman, Strade Bianche and Tirreno-Adriatico ahead of the classics.
"A few important wins would make my season a success," Moser added. "Even if I'm not winning but there fighting. It's always difficult to win in a classic anyway. I need to be up front in the important races, the classics in Belgium or Milan-San Remo. To win is difficult, that's clear, but it's important to race at the front, in the first five. That would be a success and it will also be important to help me understand where my career can go."
He competes in San Luis and several other races, including Milan-San Remo, with the team's star, Peter Sagan. He will be on his own for the Ardennes Classics.
"Up until this point it's been an advantage to have him in the team. The only race I won [in 2013] probably came thanks to him," added Moser. "It's not important whether or not I'm a domestique because if we are both going well it's an advantage. If I'm going well in San Remo, he can go free while the others eye me, or maybe the opposite. However, it's not only about San Remo, I have all of the Belgian classics ahead of me."
Moser abandoned the Amstel Gold Race last season. He placed 143rd in Flèche Wallonne and 124th in Liège-Bastogne-Liège. He said that despite the Strade Bianche win, it was a "hard" year.
"I knew that 2013 would be hard anyway," he continued. "The expectations were high and it's not always easy to confirm those expectations. The people think that every year you are going to go better but that's not easy. 2014 will be the confirmation year."
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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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