The Italian Professional Continental team secured a licence from the UCI for the 2019 season but had still to reveal their title sponsors. They did so via the pages of La Gazzetta dello Sport, which listed the rosters of the four Italian Professional teams (Androni Giocattoli, Bardiani-CSF, Nippo-Vini Fantini-Faizanè and Neri Sottoli-Selle Italia-KTM).
The Italian sports newspaper's parent company organises the Giro d’Italia but warned about the dire consequences the Italian Professional Continental teams face in 2020, when only two, rather than four, wild card invitations to the Giro d’Italia will be awarded. The other two places will go to the best-ranked Professional Continental teams, but the Italians are struggling to secure the sponsorship, riders and points needed to take on their bigger French rivals such as Cofidis, Direct Energie and Arkéa Samsic.
Italy no longer has a WorldTour team and while it still has 51 riders in the WorldTour peloton, it has been overtaken as the biggest nation by Belgium that has 52 riders.
La Gazzetta dello Sport highlighted that while the four Professional Continental teams won 74 races in 2018, none were at WorldTour level and only six were in Italy. The vast number came in minor races in Asia, where the teams are paid to race. The Italian teams secured just one WorldTour wild card place, with Nippo-Vini Fantini invited to the Amstel Gold Race to celebrate the retirement of former winner Damiano Cunego.
A 17-rider roster for Neri Sottoli-Selle Italia-KTM
Neri Sottoli-Selle Italia-KTM have still to unveil their jersey design but are due to make their season debut at the Vuelta a San Juan in Argentina.
Visconti returns to work with directeur sportif Luca Scinto after a long career at WorldTour level. The 35-year-old Sicilian has won 30 races, and Neri Sottoli-Selle Italia-KTM hope his and Dayer Quintana’s presence will earn the team a wild card invitation to this year’s Giro d’Italia.
Also in the team’s roster are 2018 riders Liam Bertazzo, Simone Bevilacqua, Giuseppe Fonzi, Luca Pacioni, Luca Raggio, Massimo Rosa, Sebastian Schonberger, Simone Velasco and Edoardo Zardini, plus Dutchman Etienne Van Empel, who rode for Team Roompot, Francesco Manuel Bongiorno, who is making his comeback after a year of retirement, and four neo-pros: Lorenzo Fortunato, Davide Gabburo, Moreno Marchetti and Umberto Marengo.
Filippo Pozzato confirmed his retirement late in December, while sprinter Jakub Mareczko has joined CCC Team.
The Neri Sottoli-Selle Italia-KTM team will also support the Franco Ballerini Under-23 and Junior development squad that are named in memory of the former Paris-Roubaix winner and Italian national coach, who died in 2010. The team also plan to create a semi-covered 500m circuit near their base in Tuscany so the young riders can train and race safely. It will be called Velo Ballero.