Enrico Gasparotto has decided to switch national allegiance from Italy to Switzerland at the age of 37.
The 2005 Italian road race champion has apparently been in conflict with his national cycling federation for a number of years, according to Het Nieusblad, and after gaining Swiss nationality has successfully registered as a Swiss rider with the UCI ahead of the 2020 season.
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Gasparotto has lived in Ticino, the Italian-speaking part of Switzerland, for a number of years now, which allowed him to apply for citizenship.
Crucially, he will now be eligible for national selection, with the Tokyo 2020 Olympics in particular soon looming into view. The Italians’ boasted one of the strongest squads at the recent Yorkshire Worlds and are likely to field riders such as Vincenzo Nibali (Bahrain-Merida), Giulio Ciccone (Trek-Segafredo) and Gianni Moscon (Ineos) for the hilly Japanese parcours.
Switzerland, meanwhile, also boast a number of talented riders, such as Stefan Küng (Groupama-FDJ) and Marc Hirschi (Sunweb), but the seasoned pro will stand a better chance of making the cut with his new country, if that is indeed his goal.
The UCI Road World Championships will also be taking place in Switzerland next year, giving Gasparotto the opportunity of racing a home Worlds in his first year of being a citizen of his new country.
This is also the second team change in as many years for Gasparotto, who switched trade squads from Bahrain-Merida to Dimension Data (soon to be Team NTT) at the start of the 2019 season. His contract runs until 2020, when he will be 38 years old.
Alongside his national championship title in 2005, the biggest wins of his career have come in the Amstel Gold Race, beating Jelle Vanendert (Lotto-Soudal) and Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe) in 2012 and taking his second win in 2016, edging out Michael Valgren (Dimension Data) and Sonny Colbrelli (Bahrain-Merida).
The UCI recently confirmed the number of rider spots each nation will receive for the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games road cycling events.
Belgium, Colombia, France, Italy, the Netherlands and Spain will all receive the maximum five spots, while Great Britain and Switzerland will both receive four.