After withdrawing from professional cycling last year, Colavita USA announced that it would return as the co-title sponsor of the new Colavita-Bialetti women's team in 2018. American sprinter Tina Pic will lead the team at select criteriums across North America.
"Bialetti and Colavita have found the perfect fit together in this partnership," says John Profaci, VP, Marketing of Colavita USA, and Team Colavita/Bialetti manager.
"We are very grateful that it allows us to continue our support of this sport that is so important to us and that we believe in so passionately. Team Colavita has been one of the longest-running women's cycling programs in the country, and we put a lot of value into associating our brand with this healthy, community-driven activity. We are very excited that another quality Italian brand like Bialetti shares in our mission and has joined our cause to form Team Colavita/Bialetti."
Colavita has been a staple among sponsorship in professional men's and women's cycling, along with amateur cycling and events. Headquartered in New Jersey, Profaci has been the main driver behind the company's cycling sponsorship program since 2003 including its most recent UCI-registered Colavita-Bianchi women's team last year.
Colavita teams had 15 years of success on the North American circuit, and through its support, helped numerous athletes move on to become national champions, world champions, and Olympic competitors that include Giorgia Bronzini, Rachel Heal and Alison Powers.
The men's program folded in 2008 and Profaci announced in September that the women's team would disband at the end of 2017. He cited a lack of financial support from other sponsors as the reason for ending the program altogether.
"Colavita had been the only cash sponsor to our teams for over a decade despite granting co-title sponsorships to supportive product sponsors, but finally it was deemed too much of a financial burden to continue again into 2018," Profaci told Cyclingnews.
"I had to make the difficult and emotional decision to finally step down from our Colavita pro team program. I was unable to secure a co-title willing to invest money, and it was going to be difficult to go it alone."
Wanting to stay connected to cycling, he redirected some funding to Colavita Cares, a new community outreach program that assists charitable foundations to achieve their goals in fundraising to benefit children, individuals, and families affected by economic hardship, physical disability, emotional suffering, natural disaster, and social discrimination. Colavita-Bianchi's former racer and director Mary Zider and team mechanic Andre Smith have continued to work with that program, which brings meals and mechanic support at charity rides, schools, public events, and pro events; lending a hand assisting teams and cyclists with free mechanic support and more.
With no initial intention of re-launching a professional women's cycling program, Profaci received the sponsorship proposal from the Italian stovetop coffee makers and cookware company Bialetti. It's offered to provide financial support was the co-title partnership that Profaci had been waiting on for 15 years. Also joining as sponsors are Italian companies Bianchi and Vittoria.
"As strange luck sometimes happens, I received a message just one week after the 'program ended' press release was circulated from the Bialetti brand Marketing Manager Julie Lawson. She essentially said, 'Hey John, let's move quickly and get the pro women's team back together!' I still can't believe it. So, we are back and with an exciting and synergistic marketing partner Bialetti - hopefully for the long term."
The team's leader, Pic, is a six-time US national criterium champion and four-time USA Cycling National Racing Calendar points champion. The roster also includes Christina Gokey-Smith and Payten Maness. Pic is looking to bring in several new riders but aiming to keep the team small.
"We're going to try some riders as the season progresses," Pic told Cyclingnews. "We're looking for a good fit. We hope to find that awesome fourth rider and possibly a few more."
The team will mainly compete in criterium racing and plan to be at the USA Crits Series, Sunny King and BC Superweek. They will also compete at the USA Cycling Road National Championships.
"Our focus is on crits since we really love those. I think we'll probably add a few more as the season goes along."