The season rolled to a close here in the land of milk and honey. After a fantastic mid season, the final two races were just horrible. Broken spokes, bunch sprints of 100 up, and crashes; I just wanted that season to finally end.
I was a broken man, the season had been long and hard and my first maintaining that sort of intensity in a long long time.
My intention had been to pack up for the year a fortnight earlier, however I was just desperate to find a new ride for 2009. Team Aker, the glamour boys of the Lombardian plains were showing moderate, if slightly disinterested interest. They were cool, so cool, that they strutted around race sign on each week. Angelo Denti was there star, and he had even started to acknowledge me after I had finished in the breakaway with him several times. This was the team for me, and my sources, Guiseppe, had told me Angelo was keen to ride with me.
The last race of the year, we cornered Angelo in the bar and over post race espresso exchanged telephone numbers. He would talk with Mr Beschi, Aker Team manager.
Also in the bar in Castel Saint Angelo that afternoon, was Mr Gianfredo, and he sought us out, Felix, Nicky and my ever faithful team manager,Guiseppe. Mr Gianfredo and team Lamer Ceramiche wanted me in 2009. Perhaps it was just vanity, but I could see myself in that white Aker kit. Angelo and I; we could strut together.
For my own piece of mind I wanted this tidied up before I left for New Zealand in a fortnights time. Guiseppe finally tracked down the elusive Mr Beschi, Aker team manager, at his home in Brescia. Well it turned out that bastard Beschi didn't want me for 2009. There would be not strutting with Angelo next summer, Aker would be kicking sand in my face instead.
Mr Francesco Gianfredo. There was something about this little rider from Paullo, he had the confidence of a champion and immediatley put things into place for 2009. I was in, and as soon as I returned from New Zealand he would organise a meeting with Mario, team manager of Ceramiche Lemer.
Well these boys turned out to be dead PRO, from the first night dinner meeting in their local trattoria, to the delivery of my perfectly fitting Nalini team kit. Mario had it all in hand.
I attended the Lemer team presentation for 2009, with my ever faithful 11 year old interpreter at my side, I shook hands with the legendary Guiseppe Saronni on the stage while being presented as the new rider for the forth coming season, all of a sudden those bastards down at Aker didn't look so bloody smart after all.
Francesco Gianfredo, the quiet man from Paullo had reason to be so confident, my new team mate had been the amateur veteran world champion in 2007 and had 17 wins to his palmares for 2008.
If there was sand to be kicked this summer, it was Frank and I that would be doing the kicking.