Savio's talent factory: How the Italian keeps finding new Colombian stars

Gianni Savio has scouted a number of talented Colombian cyclists over the years, and looks to have found another champion in Ivan Sosa

Ivan Sosa at the 2018 Colombia Oro y Paz race, stage four (Photo by Maximiliano Blanco/Velo/Tim De Waele/Getty Images)
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Ivan Sosa, the 20-year-old Colombian racing in the Tour of the Alps with the likes of Thibaut Pinot and Chris Froome, rides for Androni-Sidermec, a team known for finding diamonds in the rough.

Team Sky already signed for 2018 Colombian Egan Bernal, another one of the discoveries made by Androni team boss Gianni Savio over the years.

"It's my passion. I'm driven by this passion. The passion!" Savio told Cycling Weekly.

>>> Talent or training? How a gifted young rider becomes a champion

He laughed off the idea that any team boss could simply fly to Colombia and pick a talented rider off the street. Savio uses his budget of around €2.5 million wisely.

"I try to do my best with the limited resources I have. I'm in contact with several people in Colombia and make several trips there. Don't forget, I spent years as the national coach for their team.

"I rely on men like Héctor Urrego, the famous journalist with RCN. He helps me out so much. And on my contacts with the national federation and some agents."

Bernal with Androni manager Gianni Savio in 2017. Photo : Yuzuru SUNADA
(Image credit: Yuzuru SUNADA)

Savio has been managing teams for 34 years. One big win that stands out is Nélson Rodríguez's win in the 1994 Tour de France. Team Kelme had sent him back to Colombia saying he couldn't cut it, but Savio put faith in him.

Lately, it has been stars like Egan Bernal. The 21-year-old last year won the young rider classification in the Tour of the Alps, when Geraint Thomas won the overall.

Through the season, as well, he scored several big stage race titles: the Sibiu Cycling Tour, the Tour de Savoie Mont Blanc and the most prestigious for a young rider, the Tour de l'Avenir. Sky signed him immediately.

"Sosa's from the Bogotá outskirts, one of the many cyclists there benefiting from a thriving environment that produced Nairo Quintana, Sergio Henao, Rigoberto Urán… And can I add Bernal? Bernal should be on the podium of Grand Tour in three to four years," Savio said.

"I signed Sosa through 2020. He was a rider with Paolo Alberati, who is also the agent for Egan Bernal. So when I went to sign Bernal, I also signed Sosa. He was a climber, you could see his talent right away having won the queen stage the Vuelta del Porvenir de Colombia."

20-year-old Ivan Sosa wore the leader's jersey at the 2018 Tour of the Alps (Photo: Alessandro Trovati/Pentaphoto)
(Image credit: Pentaphoto)

Savio is developing Sosa slowly. He first had him race the 2016 season in Italy's Under 23 ranks with his friend Renzo Maltinti and his team Maltinti Lampadari. Sosa in 2017 went to the Tour of Bihor and the Vuelta al Táchira, winning the young rider classification in both races.

"He reminds me of he reminds me of 'Cacaito' Nélson Rodríguez. He's like him. And also like Freddy Gonzalez, who won the green climbers jersey at the Giro d'Italia two times with us," Savio continued.

"I had Bernal for two years, I could see him going well in the time trials as well as the mountains. Sosa doesn't have that same mix because he suffers in the time trials.

"Let's not compare him to Bernal, he still needs to develop."

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