The Trek-Segafredo team has set a goal of being number one ranked team in the world as one of its major goals for 2017 after strengthening both its Classics squad with John Degenkolb and signing Alberto Contador to target the Tour de France and other stage races.
Team manager Luca Guercilena believes that Italian national champion Giacomo Nizzolo can also improve further and target Milan-San Remo and Gent-Wevelgem as well as sprints and stages at the Giro d'Italia.
On Wednesday, Segafredo confirmed it has extended its sponsorship until 2020, giving the US-registered team stability to build a long-term future. Trek-Segafredo has rejuvenated its roster with close to a 50% turnover of riders. Other new signings alongside Contador and Degenkolb include Matthias Brandle, the American Greg Daniel, Koen de Kort, Michael Gogl, Jarlinson Pantano and Mads Pedersen, while Ryder Hesjedal, Frank Schleck, and Fabian Cancellara have all retired.
The Movistar team has on the WorldTour ranking for the last four years, with Trek-Segafredo finishing ninth this season. The UCI has confirmed that the 2017 WorldTour team ranking will be based on the rolling world ranking that includes points scored in every race on the calendar.
"We'll have to be good as a team and have several riders competitive in the finale of races. We've got a lot of work to do to build the team, it won't be easy but it's a very motivating challenge," Guercilena said in an interview with Gazzetta dello Sport, not afraid to target both the major Classics, the Grand Tours and the expanded WorldTour in 2017.
"We realised that we can support a captain and aim for the overall classification at the Tour de France, we did it with Mollema this year. Our principal goal will be to win the team world ranking. It's a sign of sporting prestige. In some cases it can also become an extra source of revenue from sponsors."
Guercilena has helped Nizzolo develop as a sprinter in recent years and believes the Italian sprinter can go on to target the Classics alongside Degenkolb, Jasper Stuyven and Edward Theuns. Nizzolo went on to win Coppa Bernocchi and the Giro del Piemonte. He was the leader of the Italian team at the World Championships in Qatar and finished fifth behind Peter Sagan.
"I think when he was relegated in the final sprint at the end of the Giro d'Italia in Turin it really angered him and motivated him for the rest of the season. He then won the Italian national title," Guercilena explained.
"He came back from an injury hit 2015 season but one of his strengths is that he never loses his motivation and trusts in his own ability. He realised when he was a neo-pro that overcoming certain problems are part of a cyclist's career.
"Early in his career Giacomo struggled to recover after big efforts in races and training but he's worked hard on it and is now competitive in difficult races too. Going forward he's got to keep his fast finish and handle harder, hillier races. I think he'll develop into a Classics rider who can win sprints from small groups. He's most suited to Milan-San Remo but can also target Gent-Wevelgem and Harelbeke."
Guercilena plays down any possible rivalry with Degenkolb come the spring Classics.
"Degenkolb has shown he knows how to win, his palmares speaks for itself. Giacomo is developing quickly and so could be a surprise on the pave, even if he may need a year of experience," Guercilena concluded.