The 20-year-old Italian cyclist has had her share of injuries, but she has a great support network in her family and 38,000-strong social media fanbase
A major annual sporting event, the UCI Track Cycling World Cup held in Hong Kong two weeks ago attracted more than 5,000 spectators to a display of world-class cycling by elite riders from more than 30 countries.
There were 300 first-rate cyclists at the Hong Kong leg of the World Cup series, and one of them, Martina Fidanza of Italy, was particularly thrilled to set foot in the Tseung Kwan O velodrome again.
Although she didn’t medal this time, the 20-year-old tells Young Post that the fervent cheers of local cycling fans in the velodrome took her back to late January, when she won her second ever World Cup gold medal at the venue.
Fidanza’s victory then came just one week after she had captured her maiden World Cup title in the women’s scratch in Cambridge, New Zealand. She is competing again today in Brisbane, Australia, to complete the World Cup series. After that, she will head home and prepare for the World Championships in February next year.
She may have topped the podium two legs in a row, but Fidanza still finds it incredible to be the cream of the crop. “It felt really special to be at the top in the elite category. Even now, I can’t believe I made it,” she says.
If you’re wondering what the teenager’s winning formula or secret weapon is, the answer is simple – cycling is in her DNA.
Fidanza’s father, Giovanni Fidanza, is a retired professional road cyclist who won an individual stage of the Tour de France in 1989. Her elder sister Arianna is also a cyclist; the sibling both ride for the Eurotarget-Bianchi-Vittoria, a UCI women’s road cycling team directed by their father.
Coming from a family of cycling pros, Fidanza, who started cycling when she was five, said she has never been pressured to follow in her father or sister’s footsteps, but found she loved it anyway.
“It was my decision to enter the world of cycling. I like the sport because I feel like I’m fighting for myself. I also love the sense of freedom I get from being on two wheels; it is a really beautiful sport,” she said.
Fidanza currently ranks No. 2 in the world in the women’s scratch. But the Italian rider admits that her 15 years in the sport haven’t always been smooth, and there have many frustrating incidents when she felt like the world was against her.
One of these incidents was getting into a serious group crash in the women’s scratch 10k race at the World Championships in Poland in February.
She fell from her bike and some of the skin was torn from her back. She was forced to withdraw from the race, and just like that, her hopes of winning the rainbow jersey were shattered.
It was physically and mentally painful for Fidanza to end the most important tournament of the year like that, but the experience made her realise it is impossible to stay at the top forever. “I knew I just had to keep on working, and wait for another breakthrough in the future,” she says.
Luckily, Fidanza has a great support network as she faces the highs and lows of her career. As well as her family, she has a huge fan base on Instagram, with more than 38,000 followers.
Fidanza said she enjoys posting both the “happy and difficult moments” from her cycling life on social media, to give her fans a realistic idea of what it’s like to be a professional cyclist.
In her spare time, the rider loves drawing. Life literally meets art in her case, as she brings equipment such as her helmet, goggles and bike handlebars to life on paper. “Drawing is my second passion. Sometimes I draw a bit before a race, too. It gives me peace,” she said.
With her leap forward in the elite track cycling world this year, Fidanza hopes to specialise in more events. “I want to concentrate on my track races. I hope in the near future, I won’t have to juggle road and track tournaments,” she says.