Androni Giocattoli manager Gianni Savio has said that he still doesn’t know if his team has secured an automatic invitation to the Tour de France as result of its placing in the UCI team rankings for 2010.
Michele Scarponi’s second-place finish at Saturday’s Tour of Lombardy was enough to move Savio’s team up to 17th place in the season-long classification, which last year would have been enough to guarantee automatic entry to all three Grand Tours. However, in the wake of the UCI’s recent announcement of its plans for the new World Tour, Savio is unsure of which selection procedure will be in place for next year’s Tour de France.
“I don’t know exactly,” Savio told Biciciclismo. “According to what was said at the world championships, the UCI Congress has decided to change the rules. For the moment I’m not sure that the top 17 teams in the world ranking will participate in the Giro, Tour and Vuelta.”
Androni-Giocattoli recently secured victory in the Campionato italiano, the season-long team classification for Italian squads participating in home races, and is thus already guaranteed a berth at the 2011 Giro d’Italia.
“We won the Italian teams championship, and thanks to an agreement between the Italian federation and RCS, we’re already sure of going to the Giro,” Savio explained. “I don’t know anything about the Tour and the Vuelta. I only know that the rules of today could change tomorrow.”
Androni Giocattoli will again be registered as a Pro-Continental team in 2011, and Savio admitted that the Giro is a more important objective for his outfit than participation in the Tour or Vuelta.
“My feeling is that it will be the 18 ProTour teams plus four invited teams that will ride all three Grand Tours, and not the top 17 teams [in the final 2010 rankings],” he said. “It would be nice to ride the Tour and the Vuelta, but if that’s not the case, I won’t be complaining about it.”
Should Androni Giocattoli be granted a place in all three major tours, Savio would be forced to expand a team that focuses largely on the Italian domestic calendar, as well as a select number of races outside of Europe.
“The team is ready with 16 riders for next season and a programme of races like this year’s,” he noted. “If the UCI and the organisers confirm to me that we’re participating in the Tour and the Vuelta, I’ll search for extra sponsors so as to be able to recruit five or six more riders.”
Ironically, the man whose high finishes at the Giro d’Italia and Tour of Lombardy contributed so much to Androni Giocattoli’s final placing in the UCI rankings will not be at the squad next season. Michele Scarponi has already signed for Lampre-ISD for 2011, where he will lead the team’s Giro challenge. The route for the 2011 edition of the race will be revealed in Turin on Saturday.