Androni-Sidermec team manager Gianni Savio has urged Giro d'Italia organisers RCS to award a fifth wildcard slot for this year’s race. The Italian manager has asked that his squad and Nippo-Vini Fantini be allowed to submit a combined team after they both missed out on spots.
In mid-January RCS awarded their four wildcard places to Bardiani-CSF, CCC Sprandi, Gazprom-Rusvelo and Wilier-Selle Italia, therefore leaving out both Savio's team and Nippo-Fantini. This caused anger and surprise, mainly within Italy, with Savio's team missing out for the second year running.
The 18 WorldTour teams are automatically invited to the Corsa Rosa meaning a total of 22 teams will ride the 100th edition of the Giro d'Italia. The race starts in Sardinia on Friday May 5 and ends three weeks later in Milan on Sunday May 28.
In a statement released by Savio, the veteran team manager states: "We believe the time has come to put an end to the controversy following the award of the wild cards for the Giro d'Italia."
"While noting that it would be virtually impossible to achieve the solutions proposed so far, we have not given up and we propose an exemption from the rules to assign a fifth wild card to a mixed team, composed of four riders from Androni-Sidermec and four from Nippo-Fantini."
Savio argued that with eight extra riders on the road safety would not be a compromised and he pointed to the 2011 edition of the race as an example. That year RCS granted a special dispensation for an extra wildcard team, in order to celebrate 150 years since Italy's Unification.
"To that purpose, we have sent an official request to RCS Sport, to the Italian Cycling Federation and to the League of the Professional Cycling. This derogation would be justified by the exceptional event: the Giro d'Italia of the Centennial. Already in 2011, RCS Sport requested and obtained an equal exemption for an equally exceptional event: the Giro d'Italia celebrating the 150 years of the National Unity.
"The derogation would cover both the composition of the team and the number of participants in the Giro, which - with 8 more riders - would increase from 198 to 206, a 'slippage' absolutely irrelevant in terms of safety in the race compared to the ceiling of 200 riders planned by UCI regulations."
We trust in the ethical and sporting sensitivity of the institutions - UCI, FCI, PROFESSIONAL LEAGUE and RCS SPORT - and we believe that all of them understand the dramatic moment that Italian Cycling is living as concerns the teams. With the quitting of Lampre, all Italian teams have disappeared from WorldTour and only four Professional have survived. If, as announced, the sponsors of the two excluded - Androni and Fantini - will abandon Cycling, we believe it is no exaggeration to predict that the entire Italian professional movement risks its survival."
Giro organiser Mauro Vengi has already made clear why both Androni and Nippo-Vini Fantani missed out on selection for this year’s race.
"I'm sorry for Androni but there has to be a project behind the teams," Vegni said. "It's the same for Nippo, who I put faith in for the last two years. I want to see the best young Italian riders turn pro with them. In Nippo's case, Julian Arrendondo doesn't make much difference," he told Gazzetta dello Sport.
Nippo-Vini Fantini manager, Francesco Pelosi, has already called on RCS to add another team to the line-up and defended his squad, which also includes 2004 Giro d'Italia winner Damiano Cunego.
Vengi and RCS remain unmoved, however, with the race organiser explaining that teams should not rely on Giro d’Italia invites in order to guarantee their survival in the sport.
"The crisis in Italian cycling doesn't stem from the (team) choices by the Giro, but by the fact the movement has for years been based upon the wrong business model: 'I need to ride the Giro or else I'll close the team'," Vegni said. "That's no way to think. We'll always give Italian cycling attention, but the Giro can't be everything and the other races count for nothing. The team who won't ride the Giro will ride Strade Bianche, Tirreno and Milan-San Remo. It is wrong to say everything depends on the Giro. That means the teams don't have plans."