• Tao Geoghegan Hart of Team Ineos celebrates his Giro d'Italia victory (Getty Images)Source: Getty Images
Giro d'Italia organisers RCS Sport have announced the three wildcard entries for the 2021 edition of the Italian Grand Tour, with the new Alberto Contador and Ivan Basso-backed Pro Continental team Eolo-Kometa the picks alongside Bardiani-CSF-Faizanè and Vini Zabù.
SBS Cycling Central

11 Feb 2021 - 10:09 AM 

The Italian-registered and Spanish-based Eolo-Kometa, which is led by now-retired pink jersey winners Alberto Contador and Ivan Basso, moved up from the Continental level for 2021, an initiative born from Contador's foundation. They're regarded as a growing power within cycling, and expected to be a team that will have a big impact on racing.

Bardiani-CSF-Faizanè, meanwhile, continue their near-unbroken run of Giro participations stretching back to the 1990s, only missing the 2009 race in recent history.

Vini Zabù receives their 11th Giro d'Italia invitation, having only missed the 2010 and 2019 editions of the Italian Grand Tour since being founded in 2009.

Androni Giocattoli-Sidermec are also a regular fixture at the race, last missing out in 2017, but they will not attend the 2021 edition after missing out on the wildcard. The team has won 14 Giro stages in its history, also finishing third overall and winning the climber's jersey with José Rujano in 2005.

This wasn't taken well by one of the old guard of Italian cycling, Gianni Savio, whose Italian-registered and sponsored Androni team relies on exposure from the centrepiece of the sport in Italy. 

“It's a real sporting infamy,” Savio told OA Sport. “The reason I define this decision as a 'sporting infamy' concerns objectively valid numbers.

"In the last four years we have been the best Italian Professional team in the UCI world ranking and the same goes for the Ciclismo Cup (Italian Cup), second only to the UAE Team Emirates, a World Tour team. Moreover, just last year, we got on the podium of the Giro for the Pellaud and Bais awards.

"We then add that two years ago we won a stage with Fausto Masnada and that we have a real squad that develops rider, given that in recent years we launched Masnada himself, Davide Ballerini, Mattia Cattaneo, Andrea Vendrame, Ivan Sosa and a certain Egan Bernal on the World Tour. Many talk about projects, but we talk about concrete data.”

At this point Savio went even deeper into the question: “If they had invited Eolo-Kometa, Bardiani-CSF-Faizanè, with Arkéa Samsic, we wouldn't have said anything, we would have taken note. 

"They (Vini Zabù) lost the best riders because they haven't renewed their deals, they have always been inferior to us, both in the UCI world ranking and in the Ciclismo Cup. They haven't launched any young riders careers, they don't have a project for the future… something is not right. In this case, we cannot escape from saying anything.”

Savio is an, at times controversial figure in Italian cycling, his Androni team was suspended for 30 days in 2015 for having too many doping cases, and he has been an outspoken manager on issues within the sport. He was at a loss to explain the team's omission and said that his future in the sport was uncertain. 

“I don't know," said Savio. "If I have to live in an unfair system that makes shameful choices, well, I don't know if I want to continue. I will evaluate it.

"I'm not saying I'll quit cycling, but I'm not saying I'll continue either. I have combativeness in my DNA, but I don't want to be the Don Quixote tilting at windmills. If this system is based on shameful decisions, I don't know if I will continue to be interested in staying there.

"There is something wrong. I consider myself one of the last romantics. Unfortunately, the God of money has swallowed up almost everything ”.

Savio continued to fight well into March last time Androni were omitted from the Giro d'Italia in 2017, even proposing an amalgam team with fellow Italian team Nippo-Vini Fantini (now defunct).