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Gianni Savio's cycling dream team

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Gianni Savio's cycling dream team

Gianni Savio's cycling dream team
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Michele Scarponi (Astana)

Michele Scarponi (Astana)
(Image credit: Courtesy of Polartec-Kometa)
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Massimo Ghirotto was 100 per cent committed according to Stephen Roche

Massimo Ghirotto was 100 per cent committed according to Stephen Roche
(Image credit: Sirotti)
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Venezuelan José Rujano (Androni Giocattoli) goes on the attack.

Venezuelan José Rujano (Androni Giocattoli) goes on the attack.
(Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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How sweet it is: Alessandro Bertolini (Androni Giocattoli)

How sweet it is: Alessandro Bertolini (Androni Giocattoli)
(Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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Mountains leader Miguel Angel Rubiano Chavez (Androni Giocattoli)

Mountains leader Miguel Angel Rubiano Chavez (Androni Giocattoli)
(Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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Androni-Giocattoli head honcho Gianni Savio chats with Michele Scarponi at the start

Androni-Giocattoli head honcho Gianni Savio chats with Michele Scarponi at the start
(Image credit: Bettini Photo)

Legendary Italian team manager Gianni Savio and his Androni Giocattoli team will not be at this year’s Giro d’Italia after they failed to secure a wild card invitation. However, to celebrate the history of the Corsa Rosa and Savio’s 30 years in the sport, he has drawn up his very personal Giro d’Italia dream team for Cyclingnews.

His nine riders have all ridden with Savio over the years and have won stages or fought for a place in the overall classification. Savio has named Michele Scarponi as his team leader and naturally included several South American climbers, who have often raced with Savio before going on to bigger teams.

Savio has often given riders caught in doping cases a second chance, and he explains in detail why he does it. He has been accused of signing riders cheaply because of their bans, but Savio defends his philosophy, using Lance Armstrong as an example.

  • Dream teams must feature nine riders, one of which can be the rider selecting the team, in which case they pick eight riders to join them.
  • The riders picked must have all ridden with the person picking the team. That means you can’t just pick the eight or nine best riders of a generation.

I’ve been a team manager for something like 30 years. I’m from Turin and proud to be Italian, but I’m also proud to have a very cosmopolitan team. My riders represent my way of interpreting professional cycling. I don’t have a massive budget like some, but I like to think I run a good team that gives riders opportunities to show their talents, especially if they are climbers from South America. I’m known as a ‘Busca Talentos’, especially in Colombia.

I’ve been going to South America for a long time now and know lots of people who follow the local and national racing scene, and who scout the best talents for me. I then investigate things, study the riders and above all I test the riders in the lab and study their physiological profiles to try to confirm if they’re natural talents or if they are a fraud. Unfortunately, it’s very difficult to be 100 percent sure about a rider, even with years of experience.

I’ve been criticised for giving riders contracts after doping bans, but I think it's only right that we give riders a second chance and I’m proud to have done it several times, including with our current leader Franco Pellizotti. I do it because cycling has gone through some terrible times and often justice in our sport has not been fair. The line between what was right and wrong was often moved depending on the case. Some riders were banned, often for a long time, while others did the same things but got away with it. Some were ‘lucky’ and others were ‘unlucky’.

 Image courtesy of Pro Cycling Trumps

I obviously wanted several South American riders in my dream team and the first, in chronological order, is Venezuela’s Leonardo Sierra because he was the very first South American rider I discovered and helped to have a successful career in Europe.

He was a great climbing talent and won the stage to Aprica in the 1990 Giro d’Italia when riding for my Selle Italia Eurocar team. It was a thrilling finish because he actually crashed twice on the descent of the Mortirolo but got back up and won. He also went on to finish 10th in the overall classification.

Sadly, he didn’t do much after leaving my team and became infamous for his fight with another rider at the 1995 Vuelta. He was already with the Carrera team by then and became a boxeur instead of a climber.

Image courtesy of Pro Cycling Trumps

Image courtesy of Pro Cycling Trumps

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