After missing this year's edition, Gianni Savio's Androni team will return to the Tour de Langkawi, from January 23 to February 1 next year, boasting talented climber Emanuele Sella on its roster.
"It was a disappointment of my 2010 cycling season to not be able to show up in Malaysia as much as I would have missed attending the races in Colombia," said Savio.
He'll be bringing the controversial Sella to Malaysia; Savio views the signing as similar to that of countryman Michele Scarponi, who was also implicated in doping and performed well whilst a member of the Androni-Giocattoli team.
"We hope that he can follow the path of Michele Scarponi who is joining Lampre for next year after finishing fourth at the Giro d'Italia with us," explained Savio. "Both have encountered problems with doping, they have paid and we consider it fair to give them a second chance.
"We'll [also] bring two neo-professionals: Antonio Santoro from Italy and Yonnatta Monsalve from Venezuela. Those two riders bring me back to the 1989 when I gave a chance to Andrea Tafi and Leonardo Sierra, also an Italian and a Venezuelan who reached the highest performances in cycling later on."
Santoro and Monsalve are considered by many as climbers to watch in the future who are making their first steps into the professional ranks - the 21-year-old Santoro weighs just 53kg and stands 1.65m tall. "Professional cycling is a new world for me," said Santoro. "I'll discover it with a lot of respect. A win for my debut would almost be too much."
Savio's team has been a mainstay of the Tour de Langkawi since the event's inception; its first appearance came in 2000 with the Colombian-registered Aguardiente-Nectar team. It didn't take them long to find success as Jamie Drew claimed the second stage, a day after the inaugural prologue was won by Floyd Landis.
Fortunato Baliani's third place overall in 2000 paved the way for the Selle Italia team that won the Tour de Langkawi on four occasions - with Hernan Dario Munoz in 2002, Freddy Gonzalez in 2004, Ruslan Ivanov in 2008 and José Serpa in 2009.
Savio's team also holds the record of stage wins at the top of Genting Highlands with Munoz (2002-2003) and Ruber Marin (2004) winning there before José Serpa (2006, 2007, 2009) who remains unbeaten in Malaysia's worldwide renown mountainside resort.
"Malaysian fans have known us mostly under the guise of Colombia-Selle Italia and Serramenti PVC Diquigiovanni, I hope they'll quickly become familiar with Androni as well," added Savio.
"This is a continuity of the same team. However, we'll bring riders who are all new to Le Tour de Langkawi but the identity of the team remains unchanged. We'll come with determination and the intention to perform and honour the event."
Androni squad for the Tour de Langkawi: Emanuele Sella, Antonio Santoro, Yonnatta Monsalve, Crescenzo D'Amore, Alessandro De Marchi, Luca Barla. Manager: Gianni Savio
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