2014 was an interesting year for Androni Giocattoli-Venezuela. The team managed by Gianni Savio was again one of the most aggressive of the peloton, scoring eight wins on three continents, but neither of these victories came in Italy, a situation last encountered in 2003. Therefore, Gianni Savio decided it’s the right time to change more than half of the team’s roster, Davide Appollonio, Oscar Gatto and Serghei Tvetcov being amongst the new riders who are expected to lead the team and bring wins.
As always, Androni will have two big goals: to keep its philosophy and go on to the attack and to fight for the overall classification in the Coppa Italia, a competition very important for the Pro Continental teams, because the winner is sure of a Giro d’Italia wild card. The start of the season was a strong one for Androni Giocattoli-Venezuela, who had to wait just a couple of days for its first victory, which came in the Vuelta al Tachira, thanks to Carlos Galviz. Now, the team will turn its attention to the Italian races, and Gianni Savio is confident the team will ride at a completely different level than it did last year.
– Mister Savio, are you satisfied with the 2014 season of Androni Giocattoli-Venezeuela?
I must begin by saying that I have expected more from some riders. There were cyclists with whom we signed hoping they will bring results, but this didn’t happen, unfortunately. For example, Johnny Hoogerland, who came as the Dutch national champion, or Manuel Belletti, who had a two-year experience in the World Tour. I don’t understand what happened to Johnny Hoogerland. Before the Giro stages, I talked to him and told him: “I’m not asking you to win a stage, just to be a protagonist” and he answered “I’m trying, but it’s not possible”. For me, it was difficult to understand. I signed with him because he had the same aggressive spirit that characterizes our team. Overall, our season wasn’t excellent, but it wasn’t bad either, because we have won eight races, one of which was the title at the Central American and Caribbean Games, a very important result.
– Which riders have impressed you?
One of these is Carlos Galviz, who joined our team only from the month of April. He won the ITT at the National Championships and the most important stage in the Vuelta a Venezuela. There was also Franco Pellizotti, who is a real professionist, very serious and for this he is our captain. Finally, also Kenny van Hummel was important for the team and I’m sorry we couldn’t have him for this year, because of financial reasons. I was satisfied with him, he won three races, but I couldn’t sign him anymore. We talked about that and he understood the situation.
– I presume that not taking a win in Italy was a disappointment.
Of course, but I know cycling very well after 30 years as a team manager, so I accept the fact that in some seasons we may have bad luck, and this is what happened in 2014. We were close to winning a Giro stage with Jackson Rodriguez, in Rivarolo Canavese, and with Franco Pellizotti, on the Monte Zoncolan. We just missed that extra something that would have brought us a win. A victory in the Giro d’Italia would have changed our season. I am not satisfied by our results, but I’m happy with the fact we honored the race, which is our philosophy.
– So the lack of results made you sign many new riders.
Precisely! I decided to change more than half of the team’s roster and my expectations are big for this season. I am confident that Oscar Gatto will surprise people this year, as well as Serghei Tvetcov. He is unknown in Italy, but his 3rd place in the USA Pro Cycling Challenge shows what he is capable of. Another important transfer is Davide Appollonio, who has World Tour experience and can bring us strong results.
– On what races will the team focus?
2015 will bring a new start for us, so we decided to change the program. Last season we raced more in Northern Europe, but now we want to have more results in Italy. This doesn’t mean we won’t go to Belgium or the Netherlands anymore, just that the Italian races will be more important now. We want to get results in all the races that take place in our country, with the Giro d’Italia being once again our most important target.
– Which Androni rider can be the revelation of 2015?
I don’t know if he still qualifies as a revelation after the results he has had in 2014, but Gianfranco Zilioli will be one to watch for. I also think Andrea Zordan will have a strong season. Unfortunately, he has had some health problems last year, but now I’m sure he will come back at the top and show his potential.
– Is there any truth in the rumors of a Jose Rujano comeback to the team for the Giro d’Italia?
No, I can confirm there’s nothing true. After the Vuelta al Tachira, Jose Rujano informed me that he wants to talk to me and I replied that we can do that, but nothing more. At this moment, we are not negotiating with Rujano.
– But are all the doors closed?
I don’t know. I am open to talk to him if he wants that, but I repet, there are no negotiations. I have a good relation now with Rujano. He knows he made a mistake a couple of years ago, but that’s the past, it’s all water under the bridge, so things are ok between us. He won the Vuelta al Tachira and when I was on the podium with Jose Garcia, who took the intermediate sprints classification, I congratulated Rujano for his triumph. We didn’t talk yet, but if he is open to do it, then we will talk, as everything is good between us.