For Italians with even a passing interest in endurance cycling Nico Valsesia is a household name.
4-time Race Across America competitor (and highest ever Italian finisher with second place in 2006) as well as holder of innumerable “from zero to-“ world records, Nico has nevertheless always communicated an enormous excitement for experiencing nature in its most sublime state, for the exploration of the extreme sides of mental strength and a pure sense of fun that go well beyond what we expect from the modern hyper-professional competitive sportsman.
Now 52-years old and, in his own words, “old and worn out”, without the same “angry competitive spirit” burning inside of him, this spring Nico found himself out searching for a bike that would accompany him in his next evolution as a rider, a search that led him to a bike that didn’t even yet exist… a photo of a prototype of a steel frame, shared on his phone by an overeager Cinelli salesman, a first idea of what the new Cinelli Nemo gravel would become.
“It was me that found the bike,” stresses Nico, “not the brand that found me that gave me the bike. I’m 52, I’m old and worn out, I have the right to choose my own bike! And when I saw the Nemo Gravel I was immediately inspired. As a young MTB I’d ridden steel a lot and I’d always preferred steel over aluminium (which jumped around too much) and the first carbon fiber frames. In fact in the early years of carbon and alu race frames I always returned back to steel… Of course I eventually abandoned it for competitive reasons but when today I look at the different disciplines obviously MTB has dual suspension bikes and on road carbon fiber still wins, but in endurance and gravel steel often wins.”
Why does steel win in endurance races?
“Because endurance races are won by older riders where comfort and mental strength are the most important performance criteria, not pure speed. In fact it’s my own experience which allows me to come back and choose steel. I remember the comfort it offered and it’s something my body is asking for now. I need comfort, continuity, consistency, reliability, to be able to ride the way I want to ride today… and I like the idea of rediscovering a material ‘forgotten’ by competitive cycling.”
While we cannot reveal the full details regarding the Nemo Gravel prototype that Nico has been riding over the last few weeks and which he will formally race for the first time at Cinelli-sponsored epic Basajaun race this weekend we can tell you that it is made from 100% Italian materials within our own Milan factory by our talented internal framebuilder artisans and will be available to purchase from October 2023.
Keep an eye out on this space not just for when the bike comes out but also for more stories and information about the adventures planned by Nico over the coming months!
Meanwhile, if you are around Vitoria this weekend for Basajaun, and want to join us for a Warm Up Social Ride, we will ride to Landa Lake to stretch our legs and get ready for BASAJAUN.
Meet us at the Start Line on Friday 28th at 4:30 pm, download the GPX track HERE.