Winner of the Trofeo Laigueglia in 2017 and the points classification of the Vuelta a España the previous year, Felline missed the Ardennes Classics this season after being diagnosed with toxoplasmosis in early April. He was side-lined for two months, returning at the Critérium du Dauphiné in June.
Felline completed the Vuelta before lining out for Italy in the individual time trial at the World Championships in Innsbruck, placing 30th. The 28-year-old placed third at last week’s delayed Italian time trial championship in Cavour.
“I am extremely happy about this extension. I signed for one more year and for me it’s very important that the team wants to prolong our relationship and keeps believing in me,” Felline said in a statement released on Monday. “Experiencing this confidence and knowing that the team believes in me was crucial for my decision.”
Team manager Luca Guercilena expressed confidence that Felline could regain his form of old after a trying 2018 campaign. Felline has been a professional since 2010, when he made his Tour de France debut as a 20-year-old neo-professional with Footon-Servetto. He later had a two-year stint at Androni before joining Guercilena’s team in 2014.
“Fabio has always been a hard-working professional, and we trust he can return at his best level. It’s true that in the past year, due to some physical issues he has not been able to obtain the results we were expecting, but we are confident that it’s just a matter of time before the old Fabio is back,” Guercilena said.
“Fabio has been with the team since the very beginning and we still believe in his capacities, so even though he didn’t perform at his best in the last year, we wanted to give him an extra chance and keep him on board for the 2019 season.”
Felline acknowledged that his stop-start 2018 season had been a difficult one.
“After the really bad year I had, the things that are important are the basic things: the confidence, the amazing group of riders and staff, and the Trek-Segafredo family,” he said. “Speaking with Luca, I completely understand the position of the team and we came to an agreement fairly easily.”
Trek-Segafredo have already announced the signing of Richie Porte for the 2019 season, while John Degenkolb, Bauke Mollema, Mads Pedersen and Jasper Stuyven will all remain with the team. Felline’s fellow Italian Giacomo Nizzolo will depart for Dimension Data.
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