were certain after their Coppa Italia win.
I can understand inviting
, they've strengthened their squad with some ex-Tinkoff riders and won a stage last year.
were as good as certain - Wilier & Selle Italia are big names in Italy, no matter which riders the team would be able to bring.
? If there's the possibility of a
Grande Partenza in the future, why invite them now? Wouldn't it make much more sense to invite them when the race starts in Poland?
Give them Strade Bianche
, T-A, MSR this year, promise them a wildcard for when the
Grande Partenza comes about ... but what do they actually bring to the race this year?
Let's see: There's one-hit wonder Białobłocki, promising climber Großschartner, proven one-day climber Hirt, Sibiu lucky strike Nikolay Mihaylov, average Pole Paterski, decent Italian one-day specialist Ponzi, Belarussian veteran Samoilau, Czech talents Schlegel and Sisr stagnating Slovenian Tratnik ... that's it. The rest of the team, I would say, wouldn't get a pro contract at a non-Polish team.
They will be able to field a squad of nine that shouldn't embarrass them - but is that enough for a Giro invite? I think we'll see lots of Sprandi sponsor banners along the race route again.
Had they not invted
, who should that last spot have gone to -
Neither team's roster overly excites me, but Androni look to have the better squad on paper. Plus, they have Bernal. So I would have gone for Savio's little helpers. Nippo will have to find more bundles of yen notes and push for that
I can see the logic in Vegni's argument that no team should be invited purely because they're Italian, and that he wants teams to have a concept. And somehow, Savio has always pulled himself out of the swamp by his own lush hair until now. But so far, he's had a loyal main sponsor to rely on - now Androni has gone and left. Will The Silver Fox be able to find a replacement?
If not, Vegni's 'internationalisation' and 'professionalisation' would have spelled the end of an iconic Italian cycling team that, like them or not (and I find plenty to not like about them), have animated cycling for decades and brought through many talented riders.