Farnese Vini-Selle Italia directeur sportif Luca Scinto has stood up for the many Professional Continental teams that have been ignored by Zdenek Bakala and his project to revolutionise the structure of the sport by creating cycling equivalent of a Champion's League.
Scinto and his equally blunt-talking team manager Angelo Citracca told Cyclingnews that any form of closed team system would go against the history of cycling and limit the chances of smaller teams to take part in the biggest races.
"It's easy to talk about changing and even improving things but it'll be very difficult to make anything happen, especially in the current economic climate." Scinto warned.
"Cycling is built on its traditions but Bakala wants to change everything and create a closed system. That's very dangerous for everyone else. It'd mean a lot of other teams would disappear, minor races would disappear and the sport would lose many of its traditions and heritage. And for what? Nobody really knows. There's talk about sharing television rights but will the organisers ever hand over their TV rights? I doubt it."
The Farnese Vini team won two stages at the Giro d'Italia and the climber's competition this season, meriting their wild card invitation from race organiser RCS Sport. Scinto believes his team deserves a place in the highest echelon on the sport, even if it has a budget far smaller than other major teams.
"A team is considered successful if it wins races and races well. Having the biggest budget in the peloton doesn't mean you're he best team in the peloton," he pointed out. "Look at BMC. If Gilbert hadn't won the world title this year, how would their season have looked. It's not about the money you have but how well you do in the races."
"I think it's only right that smaller teams like ours get a chance to take part in the biggest races in the sport. In the Champion's League even small football teams have a chance to qualify and play against the biggest teams in Europe."
Vini Fantini for 2013
Scinto and Citracca oversaw the first get together of their team this week, at their base in San Baronto, overlooking Pistoia and Pisa in central Tuscany.
The team will be known as Fantini Vini in 2013 and have a 22-rider roster. Filippo Pozzato has moved to Lampre and young sprinter Andrea Guardini has been snapped up by Astana but Scinto insists his team is as strong as ever.
"We've lost two good riders but I'm confident the team is better than ever," he said confidently. "I'd say we were the second best Italian team after Liquigas this year. We won some important races in 2012 and stood out for the way we raced and not only for our florescent yellow colors."
"We've replaced Guardini with Francesco Chicchi and I'm sure he'll do just as well, if not better. Oscar Gatto beat Alberto Contador to win a stage at the 2010 Giro d'Italia and I'm confident he's going to have a great 2013."
"Rabottini showed his talent by holding off Rodriguez to win the mountain stage at the Giro and also took the climber's jersey. He'll be even better in 2013. If we're given a wild card to the Giro d'Italia and other major races, I'm sure we'll show what we can do, even against the best in the world.
Other new signings include Mauro Santambrogio from BMC, Italian talent Mauro Finetto and Fabio Torre from Acqua & Sapone. Scinto confirmed there is currently no place for Danilo Di Luca.
"Our team is full. We've allocated all our budget and so there's no place for Di Luca at the moment. If something happens that allow is to sign him, who knows, but it doesn't look likely."
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Stephen is the most experienced member of the Cyclingnews team, having reported on professional cycling since 1994. He has been Head of News at Cyclingnews since 2022, before which he held the position of European editor since 2012 and previously worked for Reuters, Shift Active Media, and CyclingWeekly, among other publications.