Drone Hopper - Androni Giocattoli have endured a very complicated year, with no guarantees of surviving amidst severe financial issues. The team was at risk of ending, but managed to secure a position at Continental level into 2023, however team manager Gianni Savio remains optimistic.
"Marco Bellini and I were totally blown away by the position of the Drone Hopper. It is a start-up, but the very fact of having received the license from the UCI means that all the documentation was correct," Savio told SpazioCiclismo. He's been at the head of the Italian team for several decades, however this year was the closest it had ever been to ending, with the team struggling to pay off salaries and having no financial guarantees of a significant budget for the coming season.
Savio has been clear once again that the team had to let go of Andrea Piccolo and Jefferson Cepeda in July - into EF Education-EasyPost - in order to bring in some financial compensation. "The day after we received it, we used it to pay all salaries. We found ourselves completely blown away," he described.
He's talked about how the team's new and main sponsor Drone Hopper, despite friendly relations, has not been able to pay the agreed sum of money, and the lack of financing saw the team forced to descend into Continental level in 2023, with the agreements off the table as Savio did not have guarrantees.
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"Given the reality of the facts, we have decided to try to lead the team from 2022 to 2024. We give up on a Professional (ProTeam, ed.), which certainly has higher costs. Rather than making a limited team, it is better to have the courage to say: “We are focusing on a Continental”. But with two basic premises: it must be a Continental with a valid project, that is to launch promising young people," Savio said. "And then this must no longer involve any risk. Neither Marco Bellini nor I intend to repeat a season like this. I repeat, so far they have all been paid. But it was a constant stress."
The team decided to apply for a continental license for the coming season, successfully. This however means it will not take part in any World Tour race, and will have to contest a more limited domestic calendar, without several of it's leaders of 2022.
"Anyway, we got six wins. Then at the Giro d’Italia we brought two riders to the final podium, with the special rankings: Bais and Tagliani, in the breakaway kilometers and in the flying finish lines. We must not forget that we are a Professional (ProTeam, ed.) and these results for a Professional (ProTeam, ed.) are a sufficient balance."
"I am working hard to find a solution. Above all, to be able to ferry towards 2024... I am evaluating the guarantees that have been offered to me. I hope to have some news soon, so I count on it," he concluded.
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