The Lampre team has announced the first of several major changes, confirming that former professional and Classics winner Michele Bartoli will act as a coaching consultant, with riders undergoing testing at the Sports Service centre in Lucca.
Lampre team manager Giuseppe Saronni recently told Cyclingnews of his plans to revolutionise the Italian team after a poor 2012 season and the arrival of bike company Merida as second sponsor for 2013.
Senior directeur sportif Roberto Damiani is set to leave the team when his contract ends this month. Bartoli will not replace him in the team car but will coach the team's key riders including Roberto Ferrari, Filippo Pozzato, Michele Scarponi, Alessandro Petacchi, Diego Ulissi and Damiano Cunego. Lampre has stopped working with the Centro Mapei, preferring to work with Bartoli and Sports Service.
Bartoli retired in 2004 after a final season with Bjarne Riis' CSC team. He twice won Liege-Bastogne-Liege in the nineties and also won the Tour of Flanders in 1996 and the Tour of Lombardy in 2002 and 2003. A 2007 report in La Gazzetta dello Sport linked Bartoli to Operacion Puerto blood doping investigation in Spain. It was reported that Dr Fuentes gave Bartoli the code name of Sansone, the name of his dog at the time.
Bartoli has used his own experience to coach amateur riders since retiring and will now follow the Lampre riders and also help plan their racing programmes.
"It's great to be working with professional team like Team Lampre," Bartoli said in a press release. "I'm passionate about my work and I like to follow riders closely and get to know them as people and their daily training so that they achieve their goals. My new role as a consultant will let me do this even more. There's no reason why we can't work well together and guarantee great support for the Lampre team."
Saronni told Gazzetta dello Sport that the Lampre riders had pushed to work with a coach with race experience.
"Speaking to the riders, it emerged that they wanted a to work with a former rider who had experience at the highest level. Technical knowledge is important but so is the fact of having experienced certain things in training and in races. That's something we've been lacking recently and so it's right to go and find it," Saronni said.
Bartoli will reportedly attend the first Lampre training camp in Darfo Boario Terme, near Brescia, next week.