TREVISO, Italy (VN) — The smell of coffee was in the air in northeast Italy Wednesday, as American team Trek Factory Racing, with star Fabian Cancellara, welcomed new co-sponsor Segafredo.
Beginning January 1, Cancellara and company will race as Trek-Segafredo, adding the name of Massimo Zanetti’s Italian espresso giant, Italy’s second biggest coffee company, behind Lavazza, with annual sales figures at 1.3 billion euros.
“I’m a man of sport, my father gave me this passion,” Zanetti said. “I was born in a province Treviso, which had the most number of people riding their bikes in Italy. I rode, I was friends with Mr. Pinarello, who is no longer with us.
“Why this? Trek is a U.S. company, and 50 percent of our revenues are from the U.S. I feel like I grew as Trek did — a family company, a father and son company, like ours. It was natural. Plus, we already have the same colors: black, white, and red.”
The cash influx will help Trek-Segafredo approach the $20 million-plus budgets of the top squads Sky, BMC Racing, and Astana.
Zanetti will be on the pinstriped kit for some time. He signed a deal with Trek bicycles for three years, through 2018.
It is not Zanetti’s first time rubbing shoulders with sports stars like Cancellara, who has won the Ronde van Vlaanderen (Tour of Flanders) and Paris-Roubaix three times each. He sponsored Francesco Moser’s team in the 1980s, Formula One, and basketball, and presided over the Bologna FC 1909.
There is talk in the air, but no one has yet to confirm it, that Zanetti could put more money in and become the sole title sponsor — team Segafredo — by 2017. With Cancellara retiring next year, Zanetti may want another top name to lead the team, one from his home country.
Vincenzo Nibali, with his Astana contract ending next year, is reportedly shopping around and Trek-Segafredo is first on his list. The winner of all three grand tours could take with him a couple of helpers and sport director Giuseppe Martinelli.
Trek general manager Luca Guercilena said there will be time to negotiate with Nibali later, and that now he wants to put his attention on his 25-man team and the start of the 2016 season.
Though there are some national championships, Trek-Segafredo will officially make its race debut at the Santos Tour Down Under in Adelaide, Australia, with the pre-race criterium on January 17 and two days later, the tour, January 19-24.
“I’ve been lucky to know important people, like John Burke at Trek and Zanetti some months ago,” Guercilena said. “Cycling’s one of the best ways to promote a business, you are next to fans, they can touch you with their hands, and that’s different than other sports.
“Segafredo is Italian, so to have a big company here, to convince him to join after years without having a big Italian company in cycling, is important. I’m going to tell my guys to repay his support.”