Growing up running the track as a kid, Samuele Porro was always destined to go onto big things. After a knee injury forced him to turn to the bike when he was 13 years old, he hasn’t looked back since. He won the MTB Marathon Italian National title in September, making it his third national title in the discipline (2014, 2015 and 2018) adding to his Under 23 Cross Country Italian title back in 2010.
Palu: How did you get into riding when you were younger?
Samuele: I started through random chance really... up until 13 years old I was a runner, mostly on the track but also on the winter cross country courses. On the summer of 2001 I had knee surgery for a cartilage issue which sadly never let me go back on practising those disciplines. The specialists who looked after my case advised that I try cycling with the purpose of improving the strength of the leg muscles without overloading/stressing the bad knee area.
Palu: At what moment did you realise this would become your job?
Samuele: I never really thought it as a job apart from the last past three seasons, when I signed for team Trek-Selle San Marco. My race calendar become more and more busy and I decided to give up my job as a quantity surveyor, which I was doing since I finished my studies, and dedicated myself to being a full time athlete.
Palu: Have you ever thought about switching your career to road cycling?
Samuele: I love doing Granfondo races just for the purpose of getting some good workouts for my MTB racing fitness schedule and because it’s a great social discipline. Personally I think I’m more competitive in MTB discipline, which where my heart lies.
Palu: Which races are you targeting the 2019?
Samuele: To be honest we are still focussed on wrapping up the 2018 season right now, so i’ll evaluate and set my 2019 targets after a proper sit down with the team.
Palu: What are the cultural differences between a road and MTB cycling and are they well connected each other?
Samuele: I think MTB is a more individual sport comparing it with the road where the team work is really important. MTB doesn’t involve much rivalry between athletes, so as a result we are all very good mates.
Palu: What has been the biggest win of your a career so far? Tell us how it felt!
Samuele: It was my very first “maglia tricolore” (Italian national jersey) when I won the U23 XC category, partly as it was actually the most unexpected one. I still remember shouting to myself with joy with my eyes closed, it felt like a dream.
Palu: What do you do to relax when you off the bike?
Samuele: I like listening to music and watching films, although I often spend a good slice of my spare time looking after my bikes. I’m pretty obsessed with keeping them ‘looking presentable’!
Palu: You ride with Trek, how many bikes do you have as options and tell us about them.
Samuele: I have the Procaliber (front suspension) and the Top Fuel (full suspension). I mainly use the ProCaliber (front), which is lighter and more reactive. It’s also got “isospeed” technology which as opposed to other hardtail bikes is compliant enough to reduce the jarring and fatiguing effects of a rough road.
Palu: What’s your view on disc brakes in road cycling, since it’s been around a long time in the world of MTB?
Samuele: We started using Trek Émonda SLR 8 Disc this season for our road training and I believe it’s the future. Once you try the technology you no longer want to go back on the rim surface brakes.
Palu: Where is your dream place to cycle?
Samuele: The Livigno mountains are my summer training destination, it’s an ideal area for training at high altitude where you can find some of the best trails in the world.
Palu: What advice to you have for young riders coming through?
Samuele: I think it’s extremely important to have fun when doing sport, whether it’s competitive or not. Fun is the base of everything, it would be massively hard to aim yourself to your goals without that.
Follow Samuele on Instagram: @porrosamuele