Colavita-Baci is set to announce a merger with Italian women’s team ASC Chirio Forno D’Asolo for 2011. The new team, to be known as Colavita-Forno D’Asolo Pro Cycling, has applied for a license with the International Cycling Union (UCI) and will re-sign the core group of riders from each existing program, including USA Cycling National Racing Calendar (NRC) winner Cath Cheatley.
“With Franco's corporate partner, Forno D'Asolo, already focused on the women's side of the sport and Colavita now exclusively supporting that direction, the timing couldn't be more perfect for this collaboration,” said Fabio Gallina, President and Founder of Forno D’Asolo, SPA.
Discussions between olive oil company Colavita USA’s Vice President of Marketing John A. Profaci, Treviso-based Gallina, and the Italian team’s general manager Franco Chirio began several months ago. According to Profaci the team will have a strong presence in both US and Europe.
Chirio will work with Colavita-Baci’s directeur sportif Rachel Heal to develop a dual program in Europe and North America.
ASC Chirio Forno D’Asolo was founded in 2001 and is based in Montechiaro d’Asti in Italy. It has a long-standing history amongst the European racing circuit bolstered by more than 200 victories throughout its existence. The Colavita-Baci squad is the product of more than 10-year program that started as a regional team based out of New Jersey, USA.
“On the sport side, this merge is good for Colavita and its riders because the history of cycling is in Europe and this will provide a good opportunity for the riders to compete over here,” Chirio said. “But the advantage for us is that the future of cycling is in the USA where the sport is growing very fast. On a business side, Forno D’Asolo is well known in Europe and with the help of the Colavita can expand distribution into the USA as well.”
Colavita-Baci recently won of the NRC team title and its New Zealand rider Cheately won the NRC individual title. Both victories were a product of consistent and strong performances during 16 races that ended at the Chris Thater Memorial.
“The racing that the US has to offer is incredibly diverse, from long hilly stage races to the criteriums that the US is better known for,” Heal said. “It is exciting to offer the European riders the experience of the US style of racing.
“As the build-up to the 2012 Olympics gets into full swing, many US athletes are seeking opportunities to race in Europe and earn valuable UCI points,” she added. “With this merger we can give them that chance.”
According to Profaci moving up to a UCI sanctioned license is the next step in what has been a natural progression toward bringing the team to an international stage.
Chirio noted that his team’s relationship with American guest riders has been longstanding. Riders currently guest riding for his team during late-season European races this year include former World Time Trial Champion Amber Neben, Kelly Benjamin, Andrea Dvorak and Taylor Wiless.
The team’s full roster will be announced at a later date.
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