Androni Giocattoli team manager Gianni Savio was smiling more than usual after the finish of stage 3 at the Tour of the Alps on Wednesday, happy in the role of giant killer after Fausto Masnada broke free of Team Sky’s control with a late attack to win alone in Baselga di Pine.
Savio has spent most of his 20-plus years as a team manager in the lower ranks of the sport, driven by his love for the cycling, surviving on a small budget and paying his riders not much more than a living wage. He has carved out a niche thanks to his astute ability to unearth talented young riders from Italy and South America and help them develop and go on to bigger and better things at WorldTour level. Not everyone likes his style, but he is successful at what he does.
He helped Egan Bernal – now one of the biggest stage race talents in the sport – turn professional and race in Europe and then let him move to Team Sky in exchange for what he describes as a ‘development bonus.’ Savio reportedly obtaining €350,000 from Team Sky when he let Bernal move to the British squad and around €150,000 for Ivan Sosa’s move for 2019.
Savio has never been able to find a major title sponsor for his own team and so loves it when one of his riders beats the far richer WorldTour teams.
“It’s an extra special sensation when you win and do so beating some of the biggest WorldTour teams,” Savio purred when speaking to Cyclingnews.
“They’ve got stratospheric budgets compared to ours. But I love being the underdog in the peloton. I compare us to the Italian soccer team Atalanta. Every season they discover good young talent and fight for a place in the Champion’s League, but then have to sell their best players to their bigger rivals to balance their books and survive.
The biggest day of Masnada’s career
You can read more at Cyclingnews.com