Federico's Nocturne Comeback!
For Italian cyclist Federico ('Fred') Morini, this years Shropshire Star Newport Nocturne is one more stepping stone in his return from an horrific accident. Back in December 2001, Fred had just completed a successful first year with top Pro team, Gerolsteiner. The season had included an impressive victory in Stage 3 of the Tour of Austria. Then, disaster struck, Fred was training in Umbria when he misjudged a corner and plummeted into a ravine. The accident left Fred paralysed with severe back and leg injuries.
Experts at a Swiss neurological hospital, told Fred that although he would eventually regain the use of his legs, a return to cycling was unlikely. However, weeks of painful physiotherapy paid off and Fred was managing to ride a few wobbly metres just two months after the accident.
Unfortunately, continuing problems with his spine meant doctors were forced to rule out a return to Pro cycling and Fred became manager of his team-mate Davide Rebbelin.
Persuaded to ride the 2003 Nocturne by his friend, Newport's Ian Holt, Fred showed that he had the potential for a return to the top level. "Freddy was in the thick of the action from the start. If his chain hadn't broken, who knows how well he might have done" said Ian.
Nocturne co-promoter, Nick Jeggo has also stayed in touch, and in June visited a bike festival that Fred had organised in Tuscany. "Fred told me he'd recently had the doctors' ok to ride as a Pro again and was already in talks with a Pro Tour team. You could tell how happy and motivated he was. When I asked him if he wanted to ride the Nocturne again he was really up for it."
Another Italian riding the Nocturne also has an interesting history. Matteo Cardellini was a talented motor cyclist who then turned to mountain bikes. Finally he has decided than skinny tyres are his thing and he hasn't finished outside the top five in any road race he's ridden.
Mark Bell makes return
Newport’s continental-style Nocturne cycle race evening on September 10 will see the return of the first rider to win a national championship in the town. The stylish Mark Bell was victorious in the first of four National Professional Road Race Championships in the town in 1986. Mark cruised away from a top-class field to finish alone and triumphant in front of a huge crowd after over 150 miles of fierce racing.
He is returning for the Past Masters’ Race which precedes the main event and features a whole host of former professionals, most of whom battled it out over 20 years in the town’s annual Davies & Jeggo Road Race classic.
He will join his brother Tony, who writes a humorous column in Cycling Weekly magazine. Tony rode in 2003, and dropped off the pace early on before wise-cracking his way round for a few laps. He has consistently promised to return fitter and faster in 2005.
The Bells will not the only ones trying to keep things in the family. Current British national road race champion Russell Downing, the last winner of the Nocturne main race, will again face a vigorous challenge from his brother Dean, who is reported to be “flying" in short-distance races this season.
And Newport’s own Ian Holt, based in Britain after a few seasons in Italy, will have to keep an eye on his own brother Simon, who is hoping for tilt at the big stars. Although still only a junior his excellent performances this year mean he has dispensation to race against the seniors in his big home town race.
The event also provides the likelihood of other father and son teams taking part; Phil Bayton and his son, Grant, ex-Milk Race winner,Bill Nickson and his son, Bill jnr, SuperSid Barras and his son Tom. While these duos will be riding different races on the night, ex-Tour de France rider Harry Reynolds will be able to take to the streets in the Past Masters event with his son Keith, a useful Pro of the 80's and 90's.
The Shropshire Star Newport Nocturne takes place on Saturday September 10th.
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