Cipollini to step in to ensure the future of the former ISD team?
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Sunday, August 22, 2010

Cipollini to step in to ensure the future of the former ISD team?

by Jered Gruber at 3:47 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling
Super Mario's company, MCipollini, looks poised to step in as a sponsor for the team, the question is how much?

The recent announcement that ISD would team up with Lampre for 2011 has produced some confusion. Some assumed that the two teams would merge, but, as VeloNation correspondent Ben Atkins noted, there has been no mention of a merger, but rather, ISD is simply leaving its current team and putting its money in another, Lampre.

The result is a formerly titled ISD-Neri team left in the lurch. The team recently announced with great satisfaction the news of the re-signing of Italian champion, Giovanni Visconti. There had been much speculation that Visconti would move on to a ProTour team, so that he could be ensured of starts in the sport's biggest events, but somehow, Luca Scinto managed to hang on to the ever improving Italian.

The loss of ISD as a major sponsor leaves a gaping hole in the team heading toward the winter, but it appears there is good news on the rise.

Tuttobici reports that team manager, Angelo Citracca, will be making an important announcement concerning the team in the next day. It looks like the company of Mario Cipollini, MCipollini, will step up from just a technical sponsor to a big money sponsor. The company, owned by Super Mario and Federico Zecchetto, is deciding whether to come in as a title or supporting sponsor.

Cipollini and Visconti have forged a close relationship over the past few years, and it looks like Cipollini will do what it takes to keep Visconti's team in working order. The hope, of course, is that another title sponsor can be found, but if all else fails, it looks like MCipollini will at least fill in the gaps, or at worst, act as a parachute to take the team out of a freefall due to the late exit of its main sponsor.

It appears that the team's future should be secured, but the real question is whether the 2011 edition of Team Visconti will be able to field a squad competitive enough to gain entrance into Italy's biggest races, namely the Giro d'Italia. Or, an even more interesting question and perhaps more plausible: can Visconti continue to ascend in the ranks of one day specialists to a point where his presence alone is a compelling shove in the direction of a Wild Card invitation? If Visconti can put together an enormous early season and show that a race is without a doubt a better one because of his presence (a la Philippe Gilbert), the questions can all be answered in emphatic fashion. Otherwise, he'll need a team around him that can take some of the pressure off of his tricolore clad shoulders.

The need to bolster the squad's foundation has not been lost on management. Along with the news of fresh sponsorship dollars, the team under the wing of Mario Cipollini can now count the signature of talented 21 year old, Andrea Guardini. The native of Verona has won 12 times this year in the amateur ranks and recently rode the Tour of Denmark as a stagiaire for ISD. It didn't take long for the signature of the young hopeful to follow.


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