Androni Giocattoli-Sidermec celebrated overall victory in the season-long Ciclismo Cup on the podium of the Gran Piemonte race on Thursday, knowing that their success ensures a wildcard invitation to the 2019 Giro d’Italia.
The final classification has still to be calculated, but Davide Ballerini's third place and Manuel Belletti's sixth place at Gran Piemonte behind Sonny Colbrelli (Bahrain-Merida) was enough to secure victory and leave team manager Gianni Savio happier than ever.
His riders have won 30 races in 2018, including the Adriatica Ionica Race with Ivan Sosa and the Trofeo Matteotti and the Memorial Marco Pantani with Ballerini. A series of other placings by other riders meant that Androni Giocattoli finished well ahead of their Italian rivals in the Ciclismo Cup rankings and so secured the golden-ticket invitation to the Giro d'Italia.
Other Italian Pro Continental teams such as Bardiani CSF, Nippo-Vini Fantini and Wilier Triestina-Selle Italia will have to hope for a wildcard invitation from organiser RCS Sport, but Savio can enjoy the winter and plan for 2019 knowing the red Androni Giocattoli colours will line up in Bologna for the Grand Partenza in May.
Androni Giocattoli missed out on a place in the 2017 Giro d’Italia after failing to top the season-long ranking, and Savio has since made sure he was never left in a similar position.
"Of the 11 editions of the ranking, we’ve won six, including the last two," Savio told Cyclingnews, struggling to hide his satisfaction. "We're proud to be able to ride the Giro d'Italia yet again in 2019 and also have the Italian scudetto (winner’s badge) on our jerseys as winners of the Ciclismo Cup. This has paid back for all our hard work during the season.
"It was a goal we'd set right at the beginning of the season. We raced every race in the series with determination, just as we do whenever we race. That’s why we’ve 30 races this season."
Ballerini will move to Astana for 2019 and Sosa is set to join Team Sky after initially agreeing terms with Trek-Segafredo, but Savio is confident he can unearth other talents during 2019.
"Last year we started a new phase for the team by signing some talented young riders," he said. "That’s started to pay off, and so most of the riders in this year’s squad will be kept for the 2019 season. We hope to keep on doing well."
The 2019 Giro d'Italia will start with an uphill 8.2km individual time trial in Bologna and is expected to finish in Verona. The full route will be revealed in Milan on October 31.