Road

Gianni Savio on sponsor hunt on eve of Giro d’Italia

Veteran Italian manager Gianni Savio back for his 33rd Giro d'Italia, and begins sponsor-hunt to make it at least one more.

Legendary team manager Gianni Savio is a fixture on the Giro d’Italia, and he’s hoping to keep it that way.

Despite some hiccups earlier this season, Savio will start his 33rd edition of the “corsa rosa” next week in Italy under the Androni Giocattoli-Sidermec banner — a modern record for anyone inside the peloton.

And now he’s quietly working behind the scenes to make sure he’s back for more.

Savio confirmed to VeloNews he is on the hunt for new sponsors to keep funding the team into 2022 and beyond.

“We are in advanced negotiations with a potential new sponsor, but there is nothing firm to report right now,” Savio told VeloNews on Friday. “Right now, we are working hard to keep the team going beyond the end of this season.”

Savio’s immediate future was looking grim after his long-running team was overlooked for a wild-card invitation to the 2021 Giro. That immediately put the pinch on Savio’s patchwork-like assembly of sponsors that all hinge on racing the Giro.

Without the Giro, Savio and his team was on the ropes.

Also read: Vini ZabĂą pulls out of Giro

The reversal this month — with Androni Giocattoli-Sidermec replacing Vini ZabĂą which pulled out following some doping issues among its squad — means there’s a lifeline at least through the end of this season.

“I don’t want to go over everything that happened and all the polemica of the past few months,” Savio said. “The most important thing is that we are in the Giro, and we will race as we always do — to honor the Giro, and animate the race.”

Savio admits he is sometimes on a Don Quijote-like mission of trying to race against the WorldTour giants of the peloton. His entire team budget of around $2.5 million is likely less than what Ineos Grenadiers star Egan Bernal is getting paid for the 2021 season.

Also read: The manager who discovered Egan Bernal

Savio takes pride in racing the Giro with a romantic’s point of view.

It’s just as much about the passion and love for the sport as it is about results. Savio proudly points out the team hit the final podium in Milano last year, winning the “hot sprints” title as well as the honor of having one of its riders in the most breakaway kilometers during the three weeks.

“We know it’s all but impossible to compete for the overall against the WorldTour teams,” Savio said. “They all want to win a stage or be on the podium. For us, we stick to our principal objectives — animate the breakaways and try to win a stage.”

For his 33rd Giro, Savio brings his typical mix of young, promising talent and a few grizzled veterans.

It’s hard to know if Savio has another Bernal or Fausto Masnada up his sleeve, but he promises to light up the race.

Ecuador’s Jefferson Cepeda and budding Eritrean climber Natnael Tesfatsion — winner of last year’s Tour du Rwanda — will be his leading lights in the high mountains. Eduardo SepĂşlveda will try to punch into the top-10 overall, and Simon Pallaud will lead the team’s fleet of breakaway artists.

“Our Giro squad is similar to what we always try to bring to Giro,” Savio said. “We want to do as we always do at the Giro — honor the race and the tifosi, and win a stage.”

It’s good to know some things never change.