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Vegni warns Italian teams to modernise or lose future Giro d’Italia invitations

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 Mauro Vegni at the Dubai Tour

Mauro Vegni at the Dubai Tour
(Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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The final 2015 Giro d'Italia overall podium: Fabio Aru, Alberto Contador and Mikel Landa.

The final 2015 Giro d'Italia overall podium: Fabio Aru, Alberto Contador and Mikel Landa.
(Image credit: ©BrakeThroughMedia)
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Mauro Vegni

Mauro Vegni
(Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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Mauro Vegni is the head of cycling at RCS Sport

Mauro Vegni is the head of cycling at RCS Sport
(Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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Mauro Vegni, head of cycling at RCS Sport

Mauro Vegni, head of cycling at RCS Sport
(Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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Giro d'Italia race director Mauro Vegni

Giro d'Italia race director Mauro Vegni
(Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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Damiano Cunego (Nippo Vini Fantini Derosa)

Damiano Cunego (Nippo Vini Fantini Derosa)
(Image credit: Bettini)
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Filippo Pozzato models the Southeast-Venezuela kit that he designed.

Filippo Pozzato models the Southeast-Venezuela kit that he designed.
(Image credit: Southeast-Venezuela / Twitter)
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The Bardiani CSF looked happy to be racing in Utah.

The Bardiani CSF looked happy to be racing in Utah.
(Image credit: Jonathan Devich/epicimages.us)
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Nicola Boem celebrates his stage win

Nicola Boem celebrates his stage win
(Image credit: Tim de Waele/TDWSport.com)
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The Androni Giocattoli team

The Androni Giocattoli team
(Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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Alberto Contador (Tinkoff-Saxo) moves back into the overall lead at the Giro d'Italia after the stage 14 time trial

Alberto Contador (Tinkoff-Saxo) moves back into the overall lead at the Giro d'Italia after the stage 14 time trial
(Image credit: Tim de Waele/TDWSport.com)

Giro d’Italia race director Mauro Vegni has warned the Italian teams to step up and modernise or risk losing out on future wild card invitations to the biggest Italian races.

On Monday RCS Sport announced the wild card teams for the Giro d’Italia, Milan-San Remo and Tirreno-Adriatico. The Southeast-Venezuela, Bardiani-CSF, Nippo-Vini Fantini and the Russian Gazprom-Rusvelo teams secured invitations to the Giro d’Italia but Androni Giocattoli was overlooked. Team manager Gianni Savio immediately suggested that missing the Giro could spark the demise of the team.

The 2017 Giro d’Italia will be the hundredth edition of the corsa rosa and Vegni is already working to ensure the race is a special moment for Italian cycling. His message to Italian teams seems clear: if they want to be part of the 100th Giro d’Italia they need to plan for the future and start working hard now.

“Italian cycling has got to step up from both an organisational and rider point of view,” Vegni told Gazzetta dello Sport as he justified his wildcard choices.

“Nobody is investing in Italian cycling anymore and the best riders leave for other teams. The governing bodies have also got to do something. We’ve helped the Italian cycling movement in recent years and we won’t stop doing that. But we don’t want to create a situation where just being Italian is enough to secure a place in all our races. We want more than that. We want to see how teams plan to grow and develop, how they plan to help Italian cycling as a whole.”

Italian cycling has gradually lost importance, sponsors, teams and public support as professional cycling became more global, the economic crisis hit hard and the consequences of years of flagrant doping began to hit Italian cycling’s credibility. Lampre-Merida remains the only Italian team in the WorldTour but is dependent on the support of its Taiwan-based bike sponsor.

Italy still produces talented riders such as Vincenzo Nibali, Fabio Aru, Davide Formolo, Elia Viviani and Adriano Malori, but they all race for WorldTour teams outside of Italy. Many of the best young riders turn professional with international WorldTour teams instead of developing via an Italian structure. Nicola Boem (Bardiani-CSF) was the only rider from an Italian Professional Continental team to win a WorldTour race in 2015, when he won a stage at the Giro d’Italia. Vegni wants this to change.

“The Professional Continental teams have to be a launch pad to the world of professional cycling, so that they help the young riders develop in everything they do and as part of a clear project. I’m not interested in having old riders, who are referred to as 'the guy who won a race years ago…'” Vegni said. “For me, teams like that come after whoever works to develop the future of Italian cycling. I think cycling teams should offer a development structure like football teams do.”