The new president and CEO of RCS Media Group has told Cyclingnews that the Italian company has no plans to sell the Giro d'Italia and the other major races organised by RCS Sport, believing that the Italian company has huge potential and can regain some of the ground it has lost to the Tour de France in the last 30 years.
Urbano Cairo enjoyed being in the spotlight at the presentation of the route of the 2017 Giro d'Italia in Milan on Tuesday evening. He posed for photographs with 2016 winner Vincenzo Nibali and revealed his passion for Italian cycling.
"I'm not a cycling expert but I've always loved the sport since I was a kid. I always watched the race when I was young and like lots of Italians in the late sixties and early seventies I was a fan of Felice Gimondi as he battled with Eddy Merckx. My dad even sponsored a team in the Milan Six and won it twice," he said during the Giro d'Italia presentation.
Cairo launched an aggressive takeover bid to buy RCS Media Group earlier this year, leveraging his current media brands and television channel to convince shareholders to back his plans to shake up the influential but struggling Milan-based newspaper and magazine group. Cairo is famous for cutting costs and driving advertising revenue. He owns the Turin football club and developed his business acumen as a salesman for Silvio Berlusconi's company in the nineties.
There have been suggestions that Cairo might prefer to sell RCS Sport and the control of the Giro d'Italia to raise funds to invest in RCS Media Group's core business. He denied that is true.
"Sell RCS sport? No way. I'm not crazy…" he told Cyclingnews with a loud laugh, perhaps aware of the value of the Giro d'Italia despite its limited profitability.
However Cairo did hint that he is prepared to work with Tour de France organiser ASO in the future, which could be worrying news to the UCI's plans to control the WorldTour and the strategy of the Velon team association that is trying to obtain more income for teams from race organisers.
"We'll work with the French," he said, without revealing how.
"I hope the Giro d'Italia can return to be the great race it was back in the seventies. In every way, especially economically, so that we can invest and make it even bigger and better. It's got to get back to the level of the Tour de France."
Cairo admitted he helped secure a Milan finish for the 2017 Giro d'Italia after plans for a finish in the capital Rome stumbled as a consequence of the city's decision not to bid for the 2024 Olympic Games. He is also pushing to secure a significant increase in television rights from Italian state broadcaster RAI as he shakes up the management of RCS Media Group and as a consequence RCS Sport and the Giro d'Italia.