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Vini Zabù could lose pro status as sponsor heads to WorldTour

Settimana Ciclistica Italiana 2021 - 1st Edition - 3rd stage 4th stage 4th stage Cagliari - Cagliari 168 km - 17/07/2021 - Mattia Bevilacqua (ITA - Vini Zabu' Brado KTM) - photo Tommaso Pelagalli/BettiniPhoto©2021
Vini Zabù in action at the Settimana Ciclista Italiana in July (Image credit: Bettini Photo)

Italian ProTeam Vini Zabù is at risk for 2022, according to multiple news outlets. The squad, which has existed since 2009 with five separate lead sponsors, could drop down to the Continental or U23 ranks next year, with Sicilian winery Vini Zabù possibly moving to a WorldTour team.

Both La Gazzetta dello Sport and Tuttobiciweb have reported that the team is set to drop out of the UCI's second division ProTeam category, with the latter suggesting that the team could step down to the Continental or U23 ranks.

Meanwhile, main sponsor Vini Zabù, which is part of the Farnese Vini Group that previously sponsored the team in 2011 (under Farnese Vini) and 2013 (under Vini Fantini), will move to the WorldTour as sponsor of Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert for 2022, reports Het Nieuwsblad.

The Belgian outlet reports that the winery is unable to fund a team for 2022 but wishes to stay in pro cycling, adding that Intermarché directeur sportif Valerio Piva is acting as a contact between the two parties.

Any sponsorship deal with the Belgian team would mean that Vini Fantini Group would have two sponsorship deals in the WorldTour, with Israel Start-Up Nation also sporting the winery on their kits.

Vini Zabù, under the long-term stewardship of Angelo Citracca and Luca Scinto, have taken part in all but three editions of the Giro d'Italia since they started out in 2009 and have taken three stage wins along the way courtesy of Oscar Gatto, Matteo Rabottini (who also won the blue climber's jersey in 2012), and Andrea Guardini.

The team missed the 2021 race after first withdrawing and then being suspended from competing for 20 days following Matteo De Bonis' positive EPO test in March and Matteo Spreafico's positive ostarine test at the 2020 Giro.

The two cases were the latest in a string of positives at the team over the years, following those of Danilo Di Luca, Mauro Santambrogio, Matteo Rabottini, Ramon Carretero, and Samuele Conti.

Vini Zabù have yet to issue any public statement regarding the reports about the team's future, though the team did issue a tweet in response to the La Gazzetta dello Sport, noting that Vini Zabù-KTM closed in 2020 - KTM having left as a co-title sponsor last year.

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Daniel Ostanek

Daniel Ostanek has been a staff writer at Cyclingnews since August 2019, having joined in 2017 as a freelance contributor and later part-time production editor. Before Cyclingnews, he was published in numerous publications around the cycling world, including Procycling, CyclingWeekly, CyclingTips, Cyclist, and Rouleur, among others. As well as reporting and writing news, Daniel runs the 'How to watch' content on Cyclingnews and takes on live race text coverage throughout the season.

Daniel has reported from the world's top races, including the Tour de France, and has interviewed a number of the sport's biggest stars, including Egan Bernal, Wout van Aert, Remco Evenepoel, Mark Cavendish, and Anna van der Breggen. Daniel rides a 2002 Landbouwkrediet Colnago C40 and his favourite races are Tro-Bro Léon, Strade Bianche, and the Vuelta a España.