Deceuninck-QuickStep climber Fausto Masnada has spelled out his goals for 2021 – his first full season on the team – with a Vuelta a España debut on the cards and the aim to help Remco Evenepoel win a Grand Tour.
The Italian made a mid-season move to the Belgian squad last year amid the financial collapse of CCC Team, riding Tirreno-Adriatico and the Giro d'Italia for his new team and finishing sixth and ninth respectively.
It was a career-best for the 27-year-old, who had finished 26th and 20th at the Giro in the previous two seasons with Androni Giocattoli-Sidermec, also taking a stage win in 2019. After that first Grand Tour top-10, where he helped teammate João Almeida to fourth overall, Masnada plans to continue his progress on the Grand Tour stage.
"I'll be happy if I can continue my growth in the Grand Tours," he told Tuttobiciweb. "If I can improve and help my very strong teammate Remco Evenepoel to win a Grand Tour, I would be very happy.
"If I have carte blanche to win a stage I will certainly try, but the important thing is to see one of my teammates win a Grand Tour."
Masnada plans to race both the Giro and Vuelta in 2021, even if his early season plans have been thrown off by the ongoing effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, while a Tour de France debut is on the cards at some point, if not this season.
"I was planning to start 2021 at San Juan and Turkey," he said. "But now the programs will be re-evaluated. I will surely do the Giro d'Italia and Vuelta a España if I'm healthy. Making the Tour de France is still a goal – if it's not this year it will be next year.
"There are a lot of champions in this team, but whoever directs is good at planning the races. There's room for everyone, and above all they take you to the races super prepared."
As well as looking forward and planning his future goals, Masnada looked back at a tumultuous 2020, where racing stopped as he was hitting his stride, and a mid-season move came during his first year at WorldTour level. Still, despite all the changes, he rated it as a good season on a personal level.
"It was an absolutely positive season for me. I started with CCC, fulfilling my dream of getting to a WorldTour team. Everything started on the right foot, with 12th in Provence and ninth at the Tour du Var, but then COVID-19 arrived, and everything changed.
"Our main sponsor had big problems with the collapse of sales and the team told us that they would stop at the end of the season. The idea was to finish 2020 with CCC because it seemed right out of respect for the people I was working with, and then look for a new arrangement.
"But then, during the Dauphiné my agent told me that Deceuninck-QuickStep were interested, and they wanted me immediately. The opportunity was important and CCC gave me the green light. I found a great family in Belgium, where everyone works hard and helps each other, and the results testify the atmosphere. My goal was to be as consistent as possible and to keep growing, and I think I achieved it."