Gianni Savio may have lost Franco Pellizotti and Fabio Felline to major WorldTour teams for 2014, but the hugely experienced Italian team manager is quietly rebuilding his Androni Giocattoli-Venezuela team for next season and beyond.
Androni Giocattoli, Bianchi and several other sponsors have already confirmed their backing for 2014, and Savio's team currently leads the Coppa Italia classification and so is set to again secure an automatic invitation to the 2014 Giro d'Italia.
The suave Italian has managed a team for over 20 years but has never been part of the UCI WorldTour. He claims he prefers long-term security instead of the high-risk strategy of chasing major sponsors.
"My philosophy is completely opposite to that of many people in the sport. For many these days it's all about business and money but I'm perhaps one of the last great romantics of professional cycling," Savio told Cyclingnews.
"I'm a free man, I don’t have to bow down to sponsors. I have my pool of sponsors but I decide the strategy of the team, with my staff and riders. My sponsors know I'll never take too many risk or promise results that I can never deliver, and my riders know they will get a fair wage, be well treated and always be paid."
"We're a serious, organised team but our budget of 2.5 million Euro is five, six, seven or even ten times less than some of the biggest WorldTour teams. I'm gentleman and so I won't name names but some of them are terrible at managing their resources and getting results. I think we offer excellent value for money."
Savio has lost Franco Pellizotti to Astana and Fabio Felline to Trek for 2014, but he has been carefully planning his recruitment strategy. He often signs riders who have served bans for doping, suffered serious injury or who are looking to re-launch their careers. He knows the demise of several WorldTour teams and his confirmed funding for 2014 will ensure he can pick up several talented riders that will enable him to be competitive next season.
"I'm currently in negotiations and so can't reveal any names but I'm sure we'll be able to announce something at the Italian Trittico races (August 21-23)," he told Cyclingnews.
"Several riders have already been confirmed for 2014 because they have contracts. These include sprinter Mattia Gavazzi, neo-pros Matteo De Serafino and Patrick Facchini. We've also signed talented Italian rider Andrea Zordan and 20 year-old Yonder Godoy of Venezuela, he's the current Under 23 road race and time trial national champion."
Not a Team Sky fan
Savio is not afraid to admit he is envious of the big budgets of some of the WorldTour teams. He admires Team Sky's success but is not a fan of their unemotional approach to racing.
"I'm not a fan of Team Sky, we have different philosophies of how to do things but I don't criticise them like some of my fellow managers," he said.
"I've got a lot of admiration for what they have achieved but it's not how I do things. I'm more naive and prefer to combine the old and new spirit of professional cycling. I appreciate their application and use of science but I prefer a more human approach."
"Other teams have similar huge budgets but struggle to get anywhere near the same results. They're the teams that deserve to be criticised."
Venezuela WorldTour team in 2015?
Savio is preparing for 2014 and is also thinking of bigger plans for 2015. He is anxiously waiting for the outcome of elections on Friday August 16 that will decide the new president of the Venezuela cycling federation.
Savio has been patiently working with the Venezuela cycling federation for several years in the hope of creating a major WorldTour team to help develop cycling in the south American country. Androni Giocattoli dominated this year's Vuelta a Venezuela with Carlos Ochoa and won three stages.
"We'll again be a Professional Continental team for 2014. But Friday August 16 will be an important date. I'm confident about the outcome and hope it will mark the start of the project to develop a Venezuela WorldTour team," Savio said.
"It'll need time but there's no reason why we can't be in the WorldTour in 2015. We need to develop the structure so that young riders can be inspired to want to be part of the team and then inspired to do well at a WorldTour level.
"I've read that Jose Rujano is also running for president but I'm sure he won’t win. His career as rider shows why he is not a good candidate. If he did win, it would mean the end of my work on the project."