Gianni Savio's smile was bigger than usual after the final races of the Italian season after his Androni Giocattoli team again impressed in the season-long Coppa Italia classification and so secured a wild card invitation to the 2014 Giro d'Italia.
Franco Pellizotti finished fourth in Saturday's Giro dell'Emilia and with other points scored by Emanuele Sella, Gianfranco Zilioli and Pellizotti in recent races, Androni Giocattoli finished second behind WorldTour squad Lampre-Merida but ahead of Vini Fantini and Bardiani Valvole-CSF. The Italian Cycling Federation has yet to issue the final ranking but Savio has been carefully keeping tabs on the points throughout the season.
"Mission accomplished," Savio told Cyclingnews after the points totals confirmed the team's victory and wild card place in the Giro d'Italia.
"Lampre-Merida closed the gap on us in the final races but we finished ahead of Vini Fantini and Bardiani. They're our direct rivals for wild card places. The Coppa Italia was our objective for the season. We've done it again!"
While the other Italian teams will have to hope to secure the three remaining wild card places ahead of rival Professional Continental teams such as NetApp-Endura, MTN-Qhubeka and IAM Cycling, Androni Giocattoli can look to the 2014 season, knowing it will be on the start line in Belfast next May.
"We've always been in the action in the Giro and its great to know that we'll be there next year," Savio said.
"We've won stages, won the climber's jersey and finished on the podium in 2005. We didn’t win a stage this year but we set a record for the number of kilometres in breakaways: 1680km. That means we went on the attack on virtually every stage."
"The 2104 Giro is a tough race but it's not cruel for the riders. I think a climber will win but they will have to be smart tactically."
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