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PONTE DI LEGNO, Italy (VN) – One of the most experienced and reliable leadout riders in the peloton Max Richeze will bring the curtain down on his 17-year professional career when the Giro d’Italia finishes in Verona on Sunday.
Winner of two Giro stages back in the very early part of his career, the 39-year-old Argentinian is hoping to go out with a final blaze of glory by setting up UAE Team Emirates sprinter Fernando Gaviria for the victory that has so far eluded the Colombian so far in the race.
“That’s my and getting to the finish are my goals at the moment,” Richeze told VeloNews. ‘We’ve been a bit short of luck so far. Fernando’s is in good form but we just haven’t been able to finish off all the work we’ve done with victory, but of course we’ll keep trying. Treviso is the only opportunity for us now, although we’ve still got to get over all of the mountains before we get that chance.”
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Gaviria has been second twice, third, and fourth in bunch sprints so far in the Giro, going closest to victory in Reggio Emilia, when he seemed to have the stage won only to see young DSM sprinter Alberto Dainese breeze by him in the final meters.
Richeze admits that missing out by such narrow margins has been frustrating, but adds that it’s not stopped him making the most of his last competitive appearance.
“I’m really enjoying the experience and I still feel good,” he said as he approaches the finale of his 15th grand tour.
The opportunity to extend his career into a 17th season emerged in January when Gaviria’s designated leadout man Álvaro Hodeg got injured.
Looking for one more big win
Richeze had hung up his wheels a couple of weeks earlier but UAE team manager Mauro Gianetti knew that the Argentinian had kept on training and would be an extremely reliable substitute until Hodeg was fit to race again.
A deal was agreed between rider and team that runs to the end of the Giro.
“I still felt good and once I talked to the team we realized that we could come to a solution that suited us both,” Richeze explained. “I’d wanted to do another year and actually finish this, and as it turned it that’s exactly what’s happened.”
With 36 wins, including two bunch sprint victories at the 2007 Giro to his credit, Richeze has been a good sprinter in his own right, but will be remembered more for his skill as a leadout rider, working for Marcel Kittel at Quick-Step and, since 2017, as Gaviria’s preferred “pilot fish,” helping to guide the Colombian to victory and the yellow jersey on his very first day of racing at the Tour de France in 2018.
He confesses that he’s got no idea what he’s going to do once the Giro is over.
“I’d like to stay in cycling but there’s nothing concrete yet,” he said. “All I know for sure is that I’ll be able to take things a lot easier and spend more time at home, and I’m really looking forwards to that.”
We all know how popular @MaxRicheze is, and the fans showed their love 🇦🇷🤩🙌.
— @UAE-TeamEmirates (@TeamEmiratesUAE) May 22, 2022