Video: Alessandro Ponti | Stills: Chiara Redaschi | Words: Federico Damiani
Mattia De Marchi is a professional cyclist. That is a fact he considers his biggest achievement. Not the fact that he finished just shy of the top 10 at the recent Gravel World Championship - ahead of World Tour Pros and former Tour de France stage winners. Not the fact that he’s won the prestigious gravel race The Traka 360 three times in a row as well as finishing on the top step of the podium at Badlands and walking away as the overall winner of Gravel Earth Series in 2023.
For Mattia De Marchi, cycling is not only about the results.
“Sharing. That’s the one thing that inspires me the most. Connecting with other people. The bicycle is the perfect tool to expose you to people who can inspire you. Also, the feeling of the future is still shapeable - with many things to do and try and expose yourself to. That motivates me to ride. To put effort into cycling.”
Mattia De Marchi comes from a family where cycling has always had a presence. He started racing at age 9 but struggled because he was way smaller than the rest of the riders his age. It took him years of trying before he started winning in his years as a junior. In 2016, he joined a professional team as a stagiaire, but a stage win in Tour of China and a few top 10s was all that opportunity amounted to.
The talent was there if you ask people around Mattia De Marchi. But after spending his U23 years chasing breakaways, having fun on the bike and not focusing too much on results, opportunities to make a living from cycling in the traditional sense were non-existent.
A period without chasing the dream of racing professionally meant he had the chance to step outside of the circle for a while. Discovering ultra-distance cycling and gravel racing almost simultaneously. And he started winning. Winning The Traka. Winning Badlands. Smashing records. And all of a sudden, with his friends around him in the form of Enough Cycling, making a living from cycling, calling himself a professional cyclist became a possibility.
As a child, the Giro d’Italia, the myths and tales of the pink jersey filled his mind and heart with desire and determination. And even though Mattia De Marchi has chosen a different path to make a living from cycling, making participating in Grand Tours impossible, he had still not parked that desire. Until now.
“The dream of just riding the Giro d’Italia will never disappear completely. But for now, that dream is parked in the back of my mind. From time to time I will think about it, but I changed my perspective.”
Trying to prove that he deserves a spot in the professional peloton racing for pink jerseys in May is a thing of the past. Now there’s only the present. The next adventure. Beyond the normal calendar. On his own terms.
“Balancing things, not focusing on one goal only, gives you a different perspective. It probably takes a bit of pressure away. Sometimes I might feel like I need to be alone. Do a multi-day adventure race. Other days I feel like confronting the fastest riders in the world - like I did at the Gravel World Championships in October. Sometimes I fell a need to explore, to relax with the bike. So I do a bike packing trip to somewhere unknown,” says Mattia de Marchi on his approach to the 2024-season.
Mattia De Marchi is part of Enough Cycling, a collective of riders from Italy and beyond. Enough Cycling is as much a movement as a cycling team, mixing ultra-distance races, and bike packing with results at premier gravel races all over the world. On the gravel scene, they are also well-respected for their open-for-all after-parties and hospitable attitude in general.
Pas Normal Studios and Enough Cycling started collaborating on the unique visual identity of the team in 2022. The collaboration will continue in the 2024 season.