Luca Guercilena’s quiet revolution at Trek Factory Racing continues with a new co-sponsor rumoured to be on its way, Vincenzo Nibali and Tejay Van Garderen both possible transfer targets for 2017, and Fabian Cancellara considering the Giro d’Italia in his final season.
Cancellara, who retires in 2016, will take aim on the Classics one last time, while the Tour de France and the Olympic Games are likely to feature on his list of aims. He hasn't ridden the Giro d’Italia since 2009, and with the race starting with a prologue the Swiss rider has the chance to complete a rare set of leader’s jerseys, having worn the maillot jaune at the Tour and the leader’s jersey at the Vuelta a Espana.
Guercilena wouldn’t confirm that Cancellara would start the Giro d’Italia but suggested that the rider’s schedule in the post-classics period could be significantly different than in previous years.
“Let’s just say that the wish for the final year in his career is to compete in some of the biggest races,” Guercilena told Cyclingnews.
“An alternative program is certainly something that is on Fabian’s mind and the Giro could be an option. The race starts with a prologue and that’s certainly interesting for someone like him. It’s not an easy target as he’s not the youngest but it’s something we may want to try.”
While Guercilena structures the season for his most prized asset, he has also been busy securing sponsorship for the team’s future. Last week La Gazzetta dello Sportreported that Italian company Segafredo would come on board as a second sponsor for 2016.
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Guercilena would not confirm or deny the rumour, but Cyclingnews understands from sources close to the team that a formal announcement may well be made at some point next week, with the new 2016 jersey expected to remain black and white, but with red – a predominant colour in Segafredo’s branding - included. Cyclingnews understands that Cancellara’s decision to look at the Giro could be linked to the team’s ties to Segafredo.
“I can’t confirm or deny at this stage when it comes to this. Soon there will be news, though,” was all Guercilena would confirm.
The link to Segafredo set tongues wagging in the Italian press with speculation once again linking Vincenzo Nibali to the team for 2017. The Italian rider’s future is far from certain with friction between him and the Astana management stretching back to earlier in the season. The rise of Fabio Aru, coupled with Nibali’s failure to defend his Tour title, and his expulsion from the Vuelta have cast doubts over his long-term future. With his contract up at the end of 2016, he will not be shy of suitors, and Guercilena could well be one of them.
“In 2017, it’s in our interests to have a big name. Of course, Vincenzo is a very talented rider and one that we’d love to have. We know how hard the competition in negotiations can be though and of course, we have an entire season still in front of us. He’s someone that we’re looking at, but there are others too. At the moment, it’s just a nice idea in our minds.”
The backing from a new sponsor, for instance Segafredo, could provide the needed funds to help facilitate the move for Nibali.
“All I can say is that Trek has the wish to be competitive at a high level in the Grand Tours. And to be clear: we’re comfortable with the riders we have now too. With Bauke and Ryder we have reason to be optimistic about the future.”
Trek have signed new riders diligently in the off-season, adding experience with Ryder Hesjedal, and young talent in Edward Theuns (Topsport Vlaanderen) and Niccolò Bonifazio (Lampre-Merida). Peter Stetina (BMC), Julien Bernard, Jack Bobridge (Budget Forklifts), and Kiel Reijnen (UnitedHealthcare) have all come in to add dynamism and skill. However, one rider that Trek have been linked to in the past, and continues to monitor, is Tejay Van Garderen. Like Nibali, the American is out of contract at the end of 2016, although he looks far more settled at BMC Racing.
“With Trek, an American company, a rider like Tejay is always on our radar. All I would say is never say never. At this stage we just wait and see. We’ve been busy with our second season at Trek Factory Racing, and we’re planning for next year.”
Guercilena has also brought in Mapei Sport to help bolster the backdrop of the team’s technical support. Guercilena worked for Mapei previously so has experience in their practices.
“My background was always connected with Mapei as I worked there for many years. We’ve wanted to improve our performance side here a Trek Factory Racing so as well as discussing this with our partners we decided that we need a lab and facilities to help us.
Thanks to Mapei we’ve made this technical partnership. It’s also important because it’s a historical name in cycling and we’re very proud to be working with them.”