Long way round – Charlie Quarterman's circuitous route to the Giro d'Italia

 Charlie Quarterman (Corratec-Selle Italia) in the break during stage 6 of the Giro d'Italia
Charlie Quarterman (Corratec-Selle Italia) in the break during stage 6 of the Giro d'Italia

The thought of making his Grand Tour debut at the Giro d'Italia in the fragrant month of May must have felt like a fever dream when Charlie Quarterman found himself climbing into the back of an Argentinian ambulance a little over three months ago.

Quarterman and his new Corratec-Selle Italia teammates had been en route to the Vuelta a San Juan when word filtered through that the squad had secured a surprise wildcard invitation to the corsa rosa. The Briton scarcely had time to wrap his head around the idea, however, before a bout of heatstroke forced him to abandon the race on the second day.

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"When you hear about the wildcard, you start thinking about the Giro directly, even though it's months away," Quarterman told Cyclingnews. "From that moment onwards, I felt a little bit more pressure, and that's what made it hurt more when I was lying in the back of the ambulance."

Quarterman's frustration wasn't helped by the fact that he had to wait in San Juan for the rest of the week until he could board the charter flight back to Buenos Aires with the rest of the peloton. While his new companions were getting their seasons underway and putting in their claims for Giro berths, the 24-year-old had to pass the time with some solo training rides.

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"That rubbed a little bit of salt into the wound," he confessed. "It hurt a lot to miss the race, but it gave me a little more hunger and it made me see that I really needed to work."

By the time Quarterman got his season underway in earnest at O Gran Camiño a month later, thoughts at Corratec had turned more firmly towards that pressing appointment in May.

Team management took the rather old-school approach of dangling Giro participation as a carrot before their riders through the Spring, creating considerable internal competition for places. Quarterman's ticket to the Giro wasn't stamped until ten days before the Grande Partenza.

"It was part of the team's plan to motivate us by making us all work for it, and fight between ourselves," Quarterman said. "I felt more confident at the start of the season, but when the time trials I did didn't go to plan, the confidence actually went down.


"It was only in the last couple of French races that I managed to show my legs. I got in the break a couple of times there, and I was able to prepare for this race with a little more certainty."

The long road back

Quarterman at the Giro team presentation in Pescara
Quarterman at the Giro team presentation in Pescara

In the grand scheme of things, Quarterman's Argentinian episode was but a mere detour in the context of the tortuous journey that led to his Grand Tour debut.

He previously spent two years at WorldTour level with Trek-Segafredo, but each season was blighted by stoppages. His neo-professional season of 2020 was interrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic, while his second year was ruined by the concussion sustained in a crash at Omloop Het Nieuwsblad.


Quarterman's contract was not renewed by Trek-Segafredo at the season's end, while another potential avenue was closed off when the Qhubeka team went under in the winter of 2021. It looked like the end of the road, but Quarterman wasn't prepared to give up on the dream just yet. For 2022, he dropped back down three rungs of the ladder to the amateur level in France, racing with the Philippe Wagner Cycling squad.

It wasn't quite the last chance saloon, but Quarterman knew that he couldn't continue to chase a return to The Show indefinitely.

"If I didn't manage to find even a Conti team for this year, it would have been difficult to carry on," he said. "I would have needed a bit of assurance that it was going in the right direction."

Solid showings at the Tour de Normandie and Boucle de l'Artois offered hope and eventually led to his deal with Corratec, but Quarterman also took out something of an insurance policy by starting an economics degree at the University of Grenoble, an hour or so from his base in Annecy.


"It's mostly online, and it actually helps me on the bike," he said. "It makes me feel a lot more relaxed about things because I know whatever happens, I'm moving forward. There's a little bit more certainty in this very uncertain world."

The lessons learned on and off the bike, at Trek and afterwards, have all served Quarterman in good stead on his return to the professional peloton. Even at this level, cycling can be a lonesome business. Self-reliance is key.

"The biggest thing is that it's my career and I have to take care of it myself," Quarterman said. "I really loved my time at Trek, even if sometimes there was a lack of communication about what I needed to do. But I learned it's my responsibility to produce the performances the team wants."

At this Giro, Corratec have essentially slotted into the void vacated by Gianni Savio's Androni outfit, with animating the race on a daily basis the team's raison d'être. That's why Quarterman jumped into the break on stage  6 around Naples and the Amalfi coast.


"I tend to need a couple of days to warm into a stage race, but definitely the idea for me is to be in breakaways and take the opportunities when they come," said Quarterman.

"I'm just trying not to be too overwhelmed by everything around the Giro, by the crowds, by the level."

As the road grows more arduous in the days ahead, he can draw solace from thinking of the distance travelled and the detours taken on the long way round to this point. Even the studies for that online degree can help in the here and now.

"It reminds me of how lucky I am to be here," Quarterman smiled. "When it's not going so well, I can think about economic history, and I feel a lot better."