By Kirsten Robbins
Stefano Zanini confirmed his career side-step from directing Silence-Lotto to directing Team Fuji-Servetto in 2009. According to Zanini, he hopes that his former Quick Step team-mate, Paolo Bettini, will join the management staff and confirmed that negotiations between the two-time world champion and the team are progressing well.
"Yes, they are still talking about it and negotiating," Zanini told Cyclingnews. "It will be something that, to me, is a pleasure because the name of Bettini speaks for itself. He has an incredible character. He will bring a big name and a big image for our team. I don't know what kind of role he will have but having him a part of the team will be very, very beautiful."
Team Fuji-Servetto, formerly known as Saunier Duval-Scott, which became Scott-American Beef mid-season in 2008, underwent a series of sponsorship changes when marquee riders Ricardo Riccò and Leonardo Piepoli tested positive for the use of CERA during the 2008 Tour de France. "The basis of the team is to form a new project that is based on cleaning up the sport after this year," said Zanini, who joined the squad inspired by the management's focus on creating a new and clean image. "This is a project that attracted me in different ways. It's a new project for a team that wants to clean up and change from what it was before."
According to Zanini, the team is starting from the beginning, with a new direction to offer a refreshing dynamic to the peloton in 2009. "Fuji-Servetto is a completely new project that is very motivating for me," Zanini said. "As in Silence-Lotto, I will have an important role in the team as a directeur sportif. It will have a lot of 'Italy' in the team. I like it because it is new. It is a team that will change a lot and will need to be rediscovered."
Zanini joins the team along side existing directors Joxean Matixin and Sabino Angoitia. "[Alvaro] Crespi contacted me when he learned that I was free," said Zanini regarding the team's general manager, Alvaro Crespi. "We've already worked together in the past with Mapei. I will be in charge of all the Italian races on the calendar," Zanini said. "I will assist the other two directors during the stage races outside of Italy. I don't think it is a problem between directors, it's enough that you know each other really well for the program to be a success."