Italian bike brand Wilier Triestina will become the title sponsor of the Southeast team starting from the Giro d’Italia, which begins on Friday.
The team unveiled its new colours at a special presentation at the Wilier Triestina headquarters in Rossano Veneto on Thursday. The riders will take part in Monday’s Rund um den Finanzplatz Eschborn-Frankfurt in the team’s old grey and yellow colours and then race in the new red, grey and fluorescent yellow kit starting from the opening time trial stage of the Giro d’Italia in the Netherlands.
Wilier Triestina is celebrating its 110th anniversary this year and it is exactly 70 years since a Wilier Triestina team competed in the 1946 Giro d’Italia, where Giancarlo Cottur secured a historic stage victory in the city of Trieste which at the time was contested by both Italy and Yugoslavia. Fiorenzo Magni won the Giro d'Italia for Wilier Triestina in 1948 and also the 1951 Tour of Flanders.
Wilier Triestina was created in Bassano del Grappa in 1906 and has always been proud of its Italian heritage. Wilier is an acronym for W Italia Libera e Redenta (Viva Italy Free and Redeemed) and Triestina was added to the company’s name after Cottur’s success. The company is now owned by the Gastardello family and produces 28,000 carbon frames a year with a turnover of close to 50 million Euro.
In the past Wilier Triestina was a technical sponsor for Marco Pantani’s Mercatone Uno team when he won stages to Morzine and L’Alpe d’Huez at the 1997 Tour de France. Wilier Triestina also supplied bikes to the Lampre team before the arrival of Merida, with Alessandro Ballan winning the 2007 Tour of Flanders and then the world title in Varese, ahead of teammate Damiano Cunego in 2008. The Wilier Triestina-Southeast riders will use the Zero7 model during the Giro d’Italia, with Filippo Pozzato getting a new red and white bike. A completely new road bike model is expected to be unveiled some time during the Giro d’Italia.
In recent years Southeast team manager Angelo Citracca has struggled to find sponsors to cover the team’s budget after a string of doping cases involving riders on the team. The arrival of Wilier Triestina for the rest of the 2016 season is a huge boost to the Tuscan-based squad on the eve of the Giro d’Italia. Wilier Triestina-Southeast will target stage victories with sprinter Jakub Mareczko and team captain Filippo Pozzato after securing one of the four wild card invitations to this year’s Giro d’Italia by winning the season-long 2015 Coppa Italia classification of Italian races.
"We’re pleased to be the title sponsor from the Giro d’Italia until the end of season. Now it’s up to the team to convince us to continue this project in the future, with even bigger objectives, so we can both grow and both be even more successful," Andrea Gastardello said during the presentation.
"We’ve created a new logo and designed a new jersey, adding plenty of red to the team colours. Red is our company colour. It’s also the colour of Ferrari and Ducati motorbikes. We like to think it represents speed, strength the challenge for success. Our new challenge begins at the Giro d’Italia."
Pozzato shows off the new jersey
Pozzato showed off the new jersey and team issue Wilier Triestina bike at the presentation. Directeur sportif Luca Scinto is hoping that the aging Classics rider can win a stage. Scinto called on him to ride more aggressively and at the head of the peloton after being blocked behind a crash on the Paterberg during the Tour of Flanders.
"Pozzato is Pozzato and it’d be great if he win a stage. It’d be great for him and for the team. I’m sure he’ll give it everything and he only needs a bit of luck," Scinto said. "Mareczko can also do well in the sprints as he proved at the Tour of Turkey when he beat Andre Greipel. Andrea Belletti is also on form and is fast after a hilly stage. We intend to do all we can to show off the new Wilier Triestina-Southeast jersey."
Pozzato has identified three stages where he believes he can target victory. He is in the 17th season as a professional and will ride the Giro d’Italia for a sixth time. He played down suggestions that it could be his last ever Giro d’Italia.
"I’ve got another year on my contract but we’ll see how I feel at the end of season, let’s say it could be my penultimate Giro d’Italia. Before thinking about the future I want to race and win in this new jersey, that’s the most important thing," Pozzato said.
"It’s never easy to win a stage at the Giro d’Italia but I’m going to try whenever I can. There’s more chance of winning from a break these days and so I might also go on the attack rather than wait for a finish that suits me."