Androni Giocattoli manager Gianni Savio believes that time is running out for José Rujano to make the most of his talent. The Venezuelan climber has returned to the team that he left midway through the 2006 season and Savio admits that he has taken something of a gamble in welcoming him back into the fold.
“Why should I believe that José will be a winning ticket? Because I’ve told him that it’s his last chance,” Savio told Gazzetta dello Sport. “He was already a special case in 2005; he always wanted to do his own thing. But he has great talent: he just needs to be followed with great care.”
Rujano exploded onto the scene at the 2005 Giro d’Italia, finishing 3rd overall and winning an epic stage over the Colle delle Finestre to Sestriere while riding for Selle Italia-Colombia. He left for Quick Step after the 2006 Giro, and has changed teams five times in the past five seasons without ever replicating his 2005 form on European roads.
“I trust in his new intentions,” Savio said. “If he gets back into action with the humility of back then, he will get his rewards.”
Savio took another punt in the transfer market by signing Emanuele Sella from CarmioOro, and he drew parallels between that acquisition and his signing of Michele Scarponi on his return from a ban for his part in Operacion Puerto. Scarponi left for Lampre-ISD at the end of the season after a very successful spell with Androni.
Sella tested positive for CERA in 2008 and received a reduced suspension after collaborating with Italian anti-doping authorities. He came back to racing in August 2009 and is set to return to the Giro d’Italia with Androni in May.
“In Emanuele’s case, we’re also talking about a last chance,” Savio admitted. “He made mistakes, he paid for them and he came back quietly, struggling a little, but always getting in the mix. I believe in his return to the top level. His talents as a climber are unquestionable; he just needs to be well-advised.”
D'Amore begins his comeback
The 11 European-based members of Androni squad met in Arona, Italy on Tuesday to begin planning for next season, where the Giro d'Italia will be the main objective. Outside of his two new leaders, Savio is enthusiastic about another the new arrivals, former world junior champion Crescenzo D’Amore.
The Neopolitan’s story is a remarkable one. After sprinting to the rainbow jersey in San Sebastian in 1997, D’Amore signed with Mapei in 2000 but failed to make a significant impact in the professional ranks, moving between lower-key Italian teams. A difficult season with OTC Doors saw him retire in 2007, disillusioned with the sport. After three years away, he was being tempted back by Savio in October.
“Crescenzo D’Amore is the craziest gamble, but also the most beautiful, the most romantic,” Savio said. “He turned professional very young and maybe that early debut stunned him a little. After that he had personal problems, injuries and losses in motivation. But when I heard from a close friend that he wanted to try again, I gave him a chance.
“He’s already lost 4kg in two months and I’ve seen him showing great determination, which is the trademark of the Androni team.”
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Barry Ryan is European Editor at Cyclingnews. He has covered professional cycling since 2010, reporting from the Tour de France, Giro d’Italia and events from Argentina to Japan. His writing has appeared in The Independent, Procycling and Cycling Plus. He is the author of The Ascent: Sean Kelly, Stephen Roche and the Rise of Irish Cycling’s Golden Generation (opens in new tab), published by Gill Books.