Abbott signs for Safi-Pasta Zara-Manhattan

More American riders anticipated at Italian team

Mara Abbott has signed for the Safi-Pasta Zara-Manhattan team for 2011. Abbott rode for Peanut Butter & Co TWENTY12 this season. She took overall victory at the Giro Donne in July and followed that up with the US national championship in August.

“Mara exploded this year at the Giro d’Italia when she opened big gaps in the mountains, but we had already been watching her for some time,” said Safi-Pasta Zara-Manhattan manager Maurizio Fabretto. “She’s one of the strongest athletes in the world and still has significant margin for improvement given that she’s only 24 years old.”

Abbott had been linked with a move to the Garmin-Cervélo team for 2011 after Jonathan Vaughters expressed his admiration for his fellow Coloradan’s achievements, but she has opted to move to Italy. Her new manager hinted that she would not be the last American to sign for his team ahead of 2011.

“In the United States there’s currently a winning generation of girls,” Fabretto explained. “I can’t hide the fact that others could join Abbott here. Some of our sponsors are supporting this operation as they have important commercial interests in the United States, a country in which women’s cycling has a big following.”

Abbot has delivered some of best performances on Italian roads in recent seasons. She sealed her victory in the Giro Donne with spectacular back-to-back mountain stage wins at Livigno and atop the Stelvio and she was second overall in the event in 2009. She also impressed at the 2008 Giro del Trentino and Giro di Toscana.

The Safi-Pasta Zara-Manhattan squad will compete both in Europe and the United States next season and ambitions for the team are high. “Our transfer campaign has just begun,” Fabretto said. “We have some riders in our sights, among them a high-profile Italian to complement Eleonora Patuzzo, who is getting stronger.”

Abbott will not participate in the world championships in Australia. She was forced to rule herself out of the USA selection due to illness.

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