Pro Continental team Farnese Vini-Neri's Giro d'Italia went from good to excellent on Saturday afternoon when one of its riders, Oscar Gatto, took a spectacular stage 8 win at Tropea.
The Farnese Vini-Neri team, which is directed by Luca Scinto, had been selected by Giro d'Italia organiser Angelo Zomegnan because it had in its ranks the Italian national champion Giovanni Visconti. Scinto, who in his days as a pro racer rode for his team captains Michele Bartoli and Paolo Bettini, was overjoyed by Gatto's win.
"This is my first stage win as a DS at the Giro, and I have no words for that," said an emotional Scinto after Gatto's stage win.
Scinto and his riders have a good rapport and he describes himself as "affectionate" with his riders. He eats with them, travels with them, talks to them as much as he can.
During stage 1 of the Tour of Oman in February, in a race where communication via radio was prohibited, Gatto went to the back of bunch and called his team car.
"What do you need?" Scinto asked him.
"Absolutely nothing," Gatto answered. "But I miss you."
During his own racing career, Scinto at times had raced in Italian national team colors in the service of Mario Cipollini, including when the Lion King won the 2002 World Championship in Zolder. The Farnese Vini-Neri team now races MCipollini bikes.
Cipollini made negative comments, including one about Scinto's tactic on stage 6 to Fiuggi, when the team paced the bunch to set up a sprint finish for Gatto.
"I have nothing to answer to someone who reproached me for not having brought our young sprinter Andrea Guardini to the Giro," Scinto had said in reply on Thursday. "Look what kind of opportunities there are for sprinters in this race; Mark Cavendish has done one sprint in one week!"
Guardini was left at home to save him for other races. For the Giro, Scinto built a team of pure domestiques around Visconti. He had it in mind that Gatto might have some freedom at times to go for his own chances. He also brought experience via the team's veteran racer Andrea Noè, who will retire from cycling at the age of 42 at the end of this Giro d'Italia.
Scinto's team may be small, but as Leonardo Giordani has said, the squad has a big heart. Giordani spent most of the day's stage 8 in a two-man breakaway, which paved the way for Gatto's final attack.
"Luca didn't have to instruct me to break away today," Giordani told Cyclingnews at the finish line. "I had the balls to do it, and I went with my training partner Mirko Selvaggi."
Both Giordani and Selvaggi are from the outskirts of Rome. They got caught with less than eight kilometres to go. "The peloton was riding at 60kph," said Giordani, who was the 1999 U23 road world champion and has ridden as an exemplary domestique ever since he turned pro the following year.
Gatto told Scinto that he wanted to give it a go on the final hill 1.4km before the finish line. "Are you sure?", Scinto asked him via radio. "You have to be sure!"
In the end, Gatto held off a final charge from race overall favorite Alberto Contador (Saxo Bank Sungard) to clinch the stage victory.