Federico Spinazzé: Living for the Journey

Federico Spinazzé pulled off something truly remarkable. In the span of just a weekend, he raced in two different countries, navigating two flights and a ferry ride between start lines. The goal? To compete in the XTERRA World Cup in Greece on Saturday and the Italian national championships on Sunday. It was a high-stakes gamble, but as they say, you have to bet big to win big, and this time Spinazzé won. Big.

Written by
Sam Joyner
·
5
min read
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Something Special in Greece 

"It was a pretty crazy thing. I was the only one who thought to do both. I considered the opportunity with my coach and he was not so positive about it but, I thought, if I do it, maybe I can win and if I don’t, I can’t."

With an ambitious plan in mind, Spinazzé embarked on a whirlwind 48 hours. While his sights were set on winning the nationals in Italy, his dedication to the World Cup made Greece his top priority.

“Greece is a special place for me because it’s where I got my first podium in XTERRA in 2021. I love the course.”

What he cherished this year wasn't just the course, but the calibre of competitors he was racing against. Having only taken up mountain biking during the pandemic and transitioning to XTERRA from road triathlon just three years ago, riding alongside some of the best in the sport was a highlight experience for Spinazzé. He attributes his performance to his decision to change coaches during the off-season. While his 9th place finish in Taiwan hinted at progress, his performance in Greece unequivocally confirmed it.

“I think in Taiwan I saw something better than last year but I did something special in Greece. Being with Arthur Serrières and Maxim Chane on the bike was like a dream for me. I was pretty emotional. I was saying, ‘Wow, I’m here with World Champion Arthur Serrières.’ It was a surprisingly good bike for my standards.”

Drawing upon his emotions as additional fuel, Spinazzé delivered his best bike performance, entering T2 alongside the two Frenchmen and the rest of the lead pack. However, the immense mental and physical exertion of the bike leg took its toll, prompting Spinazzé to adjust his strategy during the run.

“I did not have a strong first loop [on the run]. But then, staying at my pace, I ran a good second loop. I was in eighth place after the first loop but with this consistent performance on the run, I reached sixth.”

By overtaking Theo Dupras and Jules Dumas, Spinazzé secured 6th place, marking his best-ever finish in a World Cup race.

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National Championships in Italy 24hrs Later

Still buzzing with excitement from the race, Spinazzé would have no time to dwell on his accomplishments. He had a tight schedule to keep, racing off to catch flights and make it to the starting line of the Italian national cross triathlon championships.

Spinazzé hurried back to his apartment to pack his bike and get ready for the whirlwind of travel ahead. His friend and XTERRA elite, Marta Menditto, took him to the airport where he had back-to-back flights from Athens to Rome and then from Rome to Florence. His parents picked him up when he landed in Florence and drove him to Livorno. With World Cup energy still pulsing through his veins and Italian nationals anticipation starting to build, he barely slept a minute that night. He arrived at Elba Island at dawn by ferry the next day where his coach met up with him to help gear him up–with only an hour to spare.

"I couldn't even sleep a minute, you know, from the excitement of the World Cup. I slept maybe from 1am to 6am."

With barely a moment to collect his thoughts, Spinazzé found himself once again on the starting line. Even though his biggest rival, Michele Bonacina, had opted to race solely in Greece, Spinazzé still found himself up against a tough field of rising young talent.

“They were ready to fight. They knew that I was probably tired from the trip and the race the day before. One of them, Simeone Romano, was a really hard opponent for me. He can stay with me on the bike and he's a really strong runner. So, when we dismounted together in T2, I thought, ‘Oh no, this is going to be hard.’”

As Romano surged ahead on the run, Spinazzé found himself falling back.

“I tried like the day before to stay at my own pace. In fact, in the middle of the run, I was in second place, 30 or 40 seconds behind him. At that moment, I didn’t know if I could win but I stayed strong and tried to convince myself I had something left in my legs.”

Spinazzé did have something left. Digging deep, he found the energy for one last push, taking the lead and the eventual top step of the podium.

“I caught him before the last downhill and passed him–and that was only mental strength. I won the race only with my experience.”

Spinazzé felt like he was on a roller coaster. Being in the race mindset for 48 hours was incredibly challenging but crossing the finish line felt like a liberating sense of freedom.

“It was hard. Crossing the line, it was like freedom.”

After two gruelling races across two countries in just as many days, Spinazzé notched his best-ever XTERRA World Cup performance and secured the Italian national cross triathlon title. As he aptly summarized on social media: “What. A. Weekend.”

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Living the Dream for Now

The whirlwind of races and travels didn't dampen Spinazzé's spirits; if anything, it fueled his sense of adventure and appreciation for the unique experiences that come with the sport. 

Just 3 weeks after becoming the Italian Champ Spinazzé travelled to Alabama, USA for stop #3 of the World Cup where he finished 13th in the Full Distance and 7th in the Short Track.

Reflecting on his achievements, Spinazzé shared, “You know, I’m really appreciating this journey. That's the secret of this year because I'm taking all the races like an adventure.” 

This perspective shone through particularly brightly during his debut race outside of Europe in Taiwan. For Spinazzé, it was more than just another competition; it was a milestone, an emotional moment marking his foray into racing on an international stage. “Taiwan was my first time out of Europe so that's pretty emotional. 

It’s a big deal for Spinazzé to race outside of Europe, but he's found comfort in exploring this undiscovered chapter in his life. Shifting his attention from the race to the captivating environments that travel offers and the incredible support network within the XTERRA family has alleviated him from the pressures of the race. "I don’t really feel the pressure of this year. I’m so, so happy–I’m living a dream.”

"I’m really appreciating this journey. That's the secret of this year because I'm taking all the races like an adventure.” 

Spinazzé's contentment and gratitude stem not only from his athletic achievements but also from the personal growth fostered by his solitary training sessions. 

“I mostly train alone. Sometimes that's not beautiful but at the same time, it allows you to have a lot of time to think about your choices. When you stay alone training for a lot of hours on the bike or running or swimming, you have the possibility to think a lot and to reflect on your life, and only a lot of time allows you to reach this knowledge of yourself.”

As he embraces the highs and lows of racing at a pro level, Spinazzé remains keenly aware of the transient nature of his career. “I'm growing up and realizing that this won't be for a lot of years, so I'm trying to enjoy the entire journey -  all the travel, and all the possibilities. Not everyone has the chance to do professional sports, so it’s really beautiful. I feel lucky to have the chance.” 

"I feel lucky to have the chance.” 

Spinazzé's journey is not just about winning races; it's about savoring every moment, cherishing the adventure, and embracing the privilege of living out his dream on the world stage.

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Some Things Don’t Change

Despite his adventurous spirit, there's one aspect of traveling to new destinations that Spinazzé approaches with a hint of reluctance: the culinary exploration. As a nutrition student with a knack for cooking, affectionately dubbed “The Chef” by his peers on the circuit, one might expect him to eagerly indulge in the diverse cuisines offered at each World Cup location. However, for Spinazzé, the allure of Italian cuisine holds steadfast, making it challenging to stray too far from his culinary roots.

With a chuckle, he admits, “That's always hard for me because I really love Italian food and that's hard to change. I always think that Italian food is the best.” Despite the temptation of exotic flavors and tantalizing dishes from around the globe, Spinazzé's loyalty to the traditional tastes of his homeland remains unwavering.

To follow Spinazzé’s World Cup campaign, visit the World Cup series page for race info, additional content and, and official results and subscribe to the Youtube Channel for in-depth race previews and race recaps. Also be sure to check the livestream schedule for the chance to watch Spinazzé in action between the tape at select races throughout the series.

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Author Bio

Sam Joyner

Sam Joyner is a full-time writer and editor for the XTERRA content team.

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