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Gabriele Tosello: From Cipollini to Aru

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Italian mechanic Gabriele Tosello keeps a low profile…and that’s just the way he likes it. A professional mechanic for 20 years, he has worked with many of cycling’s greats. But mostly he just likes what he calls “a beautiful job.”

Words and images by James Startt, European Associate to Peloton Magazine

Peloton Magazine: Gabriele, how did you get involved in cycling and become a professional mechanic?

Gabriele Tosello: Well, I raced on amateur teams around Milan when I was younger and then started working as a mechanic in stores and with amateur teams around the area. And from there I moved to the pro teams.

Peloton: How long have you been a professional mechanic?

Tosello: Oh, for 20 years now. I started out with Saeco, with Mario Cipollini and Gilberto Simoni. From there I moved to Lampre, where I was for seven years, before coming to Astana.

Peloton: What was it like working with Cipollini?

Tosello: Oh, he was something. In reality, he was easy to work with…as long as everything was 100-percent perfect. He was very meticulous when it came to his bike and wanted everything perfect. As long as everything was perfect, he was fine. What was most difficult was that he was always changing something. One day he wanted a red bike, the next day a white bike. Simoni wasn’t changing things all the time like Cipollini, but he too was very demanding.

Peloton: This year at the Tour de France you are working with Fabio Aru, who is in the thick of the fight for the yellow jersey. What is Fabio like to work with?

Tosello: Well, for the past few years, I was the mechanic for Vincenzo Nibali and now with Aru; I see many similarities. Nibali loved working on his bike. He could talk to me about his bike like us mechanics talk and Aru is like that. Both love the machine and both work on their bikes themselves. The biggest thing for Fabio is his choice of wheels. He changes nearly every day depending on the course. Today is pretty flat [stage 14 of the Tour], so he is riding with 47mm rims; in the mountains he usually rides 32mm rims. But I can tell you that he has tested tons of wheels and tires. By the time he arrived here at the Tour he knew exactly what wheel setup he wanted for each stage. But that is because he has been testing wheels all season long.

Peloton: Really? Wow. Is he superstitious at all? Some riders for example never like to change their saddle. Does Fabio have any particularities?

Tosello: No, actually, I would say just the opposite. The first day when he was in yellow, we put yellow pedals and handlebar tape on to match his jersey. But at the end of the stage he said, “No, I just want my regular pedals and tape.” It was like the extra colors were just a distraction and would make him think about the fact that he was leading the Tour.

The mild-mannered Tosello is chief mechanic at Astana.

Peloton: And what about the color of his Argon 18 Gallium Pro. It is a very unique color and he is the only one to have this color. Does it have special meaning to him?

Tosello: No, it is just a color that he and Argon came up with. Argon proposed a bunch of different colors and this is the one that he really liked the best.

Peloton: What do you enjoy the most about your job?

Tosello: Oh, there are so many things. First off, it’s a beautiful job working on all of these great bikes in these beautiful races. The riders are great and the whole ambiance is just so wonderful.

Peloton : And what is the hardest thing?

Tosello: The hardest thing? Hmm, I would say when I have a really demanding rider who doesn’t know exactly what he wants. He is always changing something, never happy. But he can’t really define where the problem is or what he is looking for. That can be hard sometimes.

Peloton: And what was the best moment for you as a pro mechanic?

Tosello: Well, whenever we win! And over the years there have been a lot of great moments but the two that stand out would be Nibali’s Tour de France victory in 2014 and Alexander Vinokourov’s victory in the 2012 Olympics. Those were both amazing moments!

Peloton: And the worst moment?

Tosello: Oh, well, we are living it now after the death of Michele Scarponi. It’s been a terrible time for us. It’s been a very difficult year and we just have to get through it.