Italian Pro-Continental team Androni Giocattoli has secured its primary title sponsor for 2018. General manager Gianni Savio, who was banned for three months over the 'pay to ride' inquiry in March, confirmed the deal in a release from the team.
Despite failing to earn a wild card invitation to the Giro d'Italia since 2015 and fears exclusion could spell the end of the team, Savio has ensured the survival of Androni Giocattoli in 2018. However, Savio explained the team's ability to develop riders and secure results globally assisted in the renewed deal with the naming rights sponsor.
"I thank Mario Androni and Paolo Scolè for their renewed trust. Androni Giocattoli has been supporting us since 2008 and during the several seasons we have achieved great results internationally, winning stages at the Giro and in the classics both in Italy and abroad," said Savio. "We have launched among Professionals many young riders who have achieved successes with us and then continued to win in other big teams. I like to remember the three most representative riders of the last few years: Alessandro De Marchi, Fabio Felline and Diego Rosa, now respectively with BMC, Trek Segafredo and Sky.
"I also remember with nostalgia Franco Pellizotti, who gave us a Tricolor Jersey, and with deep sorrow a rider who left us but who will always remain in our hearts not only for his victories with our jersey: Michele Scarponi. Together with experienced riders, we have now a group of young riders - some of whom have already been victorious this year at their debut among Professionals – with whom we are planning the future of our team."
Colombian Egan Bernal is into the second a four-year deal he signed with Androni and has attracted the attention of three WorldTour teams - Team Sky, Movistar and Bahrain Merida. Savio has told Cyclingnews that should the team receive a 'development fee', he would allow the 20-year-old Bernal to sign for a WorldTour team.
19-year-old duo Colombian Ivan Sosa and Costa Rican Kevin Rivera have also shown promise with Androni and could also find themselves moving on to the WorldTour. In 2017, Bernal has won the UCI 2.2 Le Tour de Savoie Mont Blanc, and the young rider classifications at the Tour of the Alps and Vuelta a San Juan.
In 2017, the team have won two professional races although they have also secured ten at the UCI 2.2 level. Androni lines out at the UCI 2.1 Sibiu Cycling Tour later this week with Bernal leading its squad.
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