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Wilier signs on as new Southeast – Venezuela title sponsor

MILAN (VN) — With seven days to the start of the Giro d’Italia, Wilier Triestina takes over the title sponsorship of team Southeast – Venezuela. The Italian bike manufacturer based in Italy’s northeast announced Friday the Pro Continental team will be known as Wilier Triestina – Southeast moving forward.

The team’s kit will change from grey and yellow to red and yellow. Star Filippo Pozzato and sprinter Jakub Mareczko will wear the team’s new colors when the Giro d’Italia kicks off in Apeldoorn, Netherlands on May 6. Their grey Wilier Triestina bikes will now be the company’s famous red.

“It was 1946 when the bright red jersey of Wilier Triestina made its debut in the world of professional cycling,” reads a press statement. “The color was an important choice at the time. The visibility was part of it: W Italia Libera E Redenta (“Long live Italy, liberated and redeemed”, the acronym that makes WILIER), was emblazoned on the chests of the riders’ amaranth red jerseys.”

Italian great Fiorenzo Magni rode a Wilier to victory in the 1948 Giro d’Italia and in the 1951 Tour of Flanders. In recent years, the Gastaldello brothers — Enrico, Michele, and Andrea — sponsored teams Mercatone Uno, Liquigas, Gerolsteiner, Cofidis, Lampre, and UnitedHealthcare.

“The team, led by Luca Scinto and Angelo Citracca, now turns red,” reads the statement. “As Wilier’s corporate color, the red jersey will represent all the history that the company brings to the peloton.”

The Italian team is one of four Professional Continental squads racing the 99th Giro d’Italia, scheduled for May 6-29, with a wildcard invitation. Its nine men will line up with the 18 WorldTour teams.

The team is not the first to change title sponsors before a major event. Highroad added new sponsors ahead of the Tour de France on a couple of occasions. Columbia sportswear joined as title sponsor ahead of the 2008 Tour and HTC joined in 2009. Also ahead of the 2008 Tour, Saxo Bank joined team CSC, which is now Tinkoff.

Belkin consumer electronics took over the sponsorship of Dutch team Rabobank/Blanco in June 2013. In 2015, during the Tour, the team welcomed Lotto and now races as LottoNL – Jumbo.

Southeast, located in Hangzhou, China, manufactures prefabricated metal panels for construction. It began sponsorship for the 2015 season. General manager Angelo Citracca told VeloNews that Venezuela will remain a smaller sponsor in the run-up to the Olympics this August, above all for the team’s two Venezuelan cyclists.

The second-division team has raced as Neri Sottoli, Yellow Fluo, and Vini Fantini over the years. Despite some doping scandals involving riders Danilo Di Luca, Mauro Santambrogio, and Matteo Rabottini, it participated in the last five editions of the Giro d’Italia. The team’s budget is believed to be around 5 million euros, or $5.7 million.

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