Italian team sponsor threatens to pull out after Giro d'Italia non-selection

Head of Androni company says 'that is it' after the Androni Giocattoli team failed to get a wildcard place in the 2017 Giro d'Italia

Rodolfo Torres of the Androni team
(Image credit: Yuzuru Sunada)

The Androni toy company says that it is pulling its cycling team sponsorship following the Giro d'Italia's decision to leave its squad out of the 2017 race.

On Wednesday, organiser RCS Sport named the four professional continental teams, or wildcards, to race alongside the 18 WorldTour teams in the Giro. Out of the four Italian teams available, it selected two: Bardiani CSF and Wilier Triestina. It also invited Russian team Gazprom-RusVelo, which raced and won a stage in 2016, and Poland's CCC Sprandi Polkowice.

Italian teams Androni Giocattoli and Nippo-Vini Fantini were excluded. The decision could force the teams to close.

"I am not a man of knee-jerk reactions, but when I take a decision that is it," Mario Androni told Tutto Bici.

"Last year, I made an evaluation, I decided that in case we fail to receive an invitation in 2017 that my time sponsoring cycling would end. I thought long about it one year ago, I said so clearly, and now I confirm it."

>>> Russian and Polish teams named as wildcards for Giro d’Italia

Sky with Geraint Thomas and Mikel Landa are among the 18 WorldTour teams due to race when the Giro d'Italia starts on May 5 in Sardinia.

Gianni Savio's team raced eight consecutive editions on wildcard invitations. After missing the 2016 section, the 2017 miss appears to be too much for the team.

Androni Giocattoli-Venezuela at the 2015 Giro d'Italia presentation. Photo: Yuzuru Sunada
(Image credit: Yuzuru Sunada)

Savio's team won stages in the Giro d'Italia in years past, but now mostly survives on smaller HC and -.1 UCI ranked races in the far corners of the globe. The team is currently racing the Vuelta al Táchira in Venezuela. Androni's Raffaello Bonusi won stage one last week.

The Giro remains 'Christmas' in a cycling season that is short of holidays. Without it, they have little to celebrate.

"It was a cold shower," Androni said of the decision. "I'm very disappointed because I was convinced that after a year on the sidelines there was a place for us at the Giro."

Androni, Nippo, Wilier Triestina and Bardiani CSF received invitations to RCS Sports other top races yesterday. For sponsors like Androni, however, the Giro brings the most publicity.

"This is a very hard blow for our team," Savio, reached by telephone in Venezuela, told Tutto Bici.

"We have a long term plan, which at this point risks going up in smoke."

Savio is planning a press conference when he returns from Turkey to announce the team’s plan. Androni will leave the team after this 2017 season.

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Gregor Brown

Gregor Brown is an experienced cycling journalist, based in Florence, Italy. He has covered races all over the world for over a decade - following the Giro, Tour de France, and every major race since 2006. His love of cycling began with freestyle and BMX, before the 1998 Tour de France led him to a deep appreciation of the road racing season.