Nippo-Vini Fantini set to fold at end of 2019

Team boss Pelosi blames WorldTour reforms and budget increases for closure

Italian Pro Continental team Nippo-Vini Fantini-Faizanè is set to fold at the end of the current season, with upcoming WorldTour reforms, the increased costs associated with them, and the reduced chance of securing a Giro d'Italia invite all cited as reasons for the team's closure.

The top level of professional cycling looks likely to expand to 20 teams in 2020, with 18 WorldTour teams and five ProContinental teams interested in applying for a spot. With a de-facto promotion and relegation system based on a retroactive points system in place, threat of a legal challenge from teams who understandably hadn't been preparing for the new system forced the UCI to expand the WorldTour. The reforms mean that there will likely only be two wildcard places available for the Giro d'Italia next season.

Speaking to La Gazzetta dello Sport, team manager Francesco Pelosi said, "With the 2020 reforms officialised, professional teams need a much bigger budget in the face of [relative] minor guarantees.

"In our case, we're talking about going from €2.8million to €4.5million in order to cover the increase in the number of riders and staff, and probably in order to access the UCI ProSeries (the new name for the Pro Continental rank) races, which could become fee-paying.

"There is no way to continue, and the only solution is to join forces [with another team]."

Earlier in the summer, there were rumours that the team could merge with fellow second-division squad Bardiani-CSF, though Pelosi didn't say whether that was ever seriously discussed.

After a two-year break from being invited to the Giro d'Italia, the team secured an invite to the race this season. On stage 18 they took their first-ever stage victory at the race, as Damiano Cima held off the peloton into Santa Maria di Sala.

With a 20-team WorldTour in 2020, and Nippo-Vini Fantini facing competition for two wildcard spots from Androni Giocattoli, Bardiani, Israel Cycling Academy and Neri Sottoli, the team's chances of returning to the biggest race of their season would hang in the balance.

Back in May, the Italian Cycling League presented an appeal against the UCI's reforms to EU anti-trust authorities. In a press release, the group argued that Italian cycling would be damaged based on factors that have little to do with sporting values, and that 'rules can't be changed without knowing the full details and without having time to assess the economic and sporting consequences.'

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