Monday, March 4, 2013

Casa Cannondale Pro Cycling

Over the past 8 seasons the maglia verde jersey has become an eye catching symbol of the professional peloton. The name Liquigas has become as prominent as the team colours.  2012 however saw the curtains close on a sponsorship deal that has supported many great riders and victories.  The team became one of the most prominent of the peloton, bred in one of cycling’s heartlands, Italy.  With it developed a culture and strong foundations for success, a prominence that is to continue for years to come.  Sensing the opportunity to put its name further into the cycling spotlight, Cannondale upped its commitment to form the Cannondale Pro Cycling Team.  This exciting new venture is sure to greatly enhance its research and development capabilities.  Sponsorship in professional sport is never a lifetime guarantee.  It’s a business, and cycling is not immune from the challenges that team managers face on a day to day basis regarding the continued funding and running of their teams.  This season sees the reins passed from the Liquigas Sport Mangement group to the Brixia sport group.  At the helm remain Paolo Zani and Roberto Amadio who remain the backbones to ensure the teams already solid foundation continues to grow into the powerhouse squadra is today.


The new team will inevitably bring some exciting changes in the direction and focus of the team moving forward.  The tried and trusted Italian traditions will remain at the heart of the team, a more international focus will carry the team forward.  The first mission for Roberto Amadio and the team of sports directors, headed by Stefano Zanatta, was to bring a more international flavour to the rider roster.   I am grateful this provided an opportunity for me to return to the squad that I had so much enjoyed being part of in 2011.  I am the first and only Australian to ride for the team, and still have to pinch myself a little when I pull on that famous bright green jersey.  For the first time a Japanese rider, Yuki Masuda, has joined the team, further illustrating the push to globalise the team.  This season also sees riders from Austria, Germany, Canada and Denmark joining the ranks. Add this to Poland, Slovakia, Cech Republic, Columbia, America, Slovenia, and of course Italy, it is one of the most international rosters in the world tour.  The Staff have remained very much the same, prominently Italian, however the past few years has seen other nationalities trickle into the core group of workers who keep the show on the road.


Every team in the professional peloton has its own unique identity of how it runs and competes.  Teams all have one thing in common, a lead rider, the ‘go to guy’ when it comes to getting results.  The focus for our team is both present and future oriented, fostering our existing leaders and working on the development of the next crop of lead riders.  Peter Sagan has been the spearhead of our attack in recent years.  At just 22 years of age he will no doubt continue to play this role for the team for many years to come.  Alongside Peter stands Moreno Moster, who had an impressive debut professional season and eagerly awaits more success, hoping to follow in the footsteps of his famous Uncle, Francesco Moser.  Elia Viviani is the man the team will look to in the sprints, and Damiano Caruso has been earmarked as a possible Grand Tour Leader.  Our squad captain will again be Ivan Basso.  Basso will lead the team in Grand Tours, with the podium in any of the 3 events he targets, well within his reach.  As he is entering the final years of his racing career, he will provide an invaluable mentoring role to our younger riders and the continued development of the Cannondale Pro Cycling Team.  The remaining riders form the ‘engine room’ to what the team hopes will bring many victories.  Of course, there will always be things that can go wrong, and it’s important to have others read there to take up the slack.  The diverse makeup of our team means we are able to line up at just about any world event and hopefully put on a good show.  This is a great strength for any team to possess.  This season will see Sagan focus on the Classics of the north before turning his attention to retaining le Tour de France green jersey.  Moser will look to the Ardennes Classics to shine, before making his much anticipated grand tour debut.  Basso will focus on taking out his third Giro d Italia, before focusing on another grand tour podium.  Viviani will be our man in the sprints year round, whilst Caruso will be a solid General Classification candidate in whichever races he is sent to.  It is evident that the Management team have built an exciting and promising roster, Cannodale Pro Cycling team is certain to be both present and prominent whenever it races.


With many years of racing under its belt the team has a tried and trusted way of racing.  Throughout the Liquigas years a family type environment has been established.   This means you never feel alone or isolated when riding in the maglia verde.   Cycling is a unique sport, the entire team is required to put in a huge amount of effort to secure the success of one rider who will then reap the benefit of worldwide media attention, the opportunity to earn a good income, and often become a national and international heroes.  Although the team captains have endless gratitude for the team mates who help secure the win, you may think its normal for all riders to want a bigger piece of the pie themselves.  This is not the case within the Cannondale Pro Cycling Team.  The family environment, established by Roberto Amadio and his team, has meant that ever rider knows his role and is both happy and grateful to have the opportunity to perform on an international stage in whatever position.  There is never debate as to who should be the focus for the day.  The management decision is always supported 100% by the riders.  Regardless of the outcome, the team will always be seen riding as one in the bunch, giving our leader the greatest opportunity to succeed.  Obviously when a great result is achieved it is very satisfying for all.  Speaking from a ‘work horse’s’ perspective,   my most gratifying moments have come from witnessing the success of my team mates, particularly  when I feel I have had a real meaningful contribution to their victory. When the team objectives are not met, while there may not be the excitement associated with a big victory, we all share the disappointment as a team and move on and look forward to working together the next time and chasing victory another day.  This family mentality has allowed the team to form its collaborative approach.  It’s a culture that has not developed overnight but one that is so ingrained in this team that it will be with it forever.

I signed my first Liquigas Sport contract at our teams home, our service course located in Sesto al Reghena, situated in north eastern Italy, half way between Venice and Treviso.  The farm setting of the magazino seemed as idyllic as the team itself.  This setting gave me the first true appreciation of the traditional and sound footing with which the team has been built.  The old homestead has been converted into offices, a gym and accommodation for staff and riders passing through.  The farm sheds have all been immaculately restored into workshops and storage rooms whilst maintaining their rustic and traditional exteriors.  The adjacent lush green paddocks act as packing space for the team trucks, buses, cars and all the other vehicles associated with a world tour cycling team. To top it all off the man at the helm of the ship, Roberto Amadio, has his residence in an adjacent farm house. In every sense Roberto lives and breathes the team and has created a homelike environment for the team. Why is this important about the team? To me it represents the start of it all, where all major decisions are made, where the organisation is done, where everything departs from when we embark on a racing schedule and finally where everything returns once the trips are said and done. At races, both on and off the bike, we are like one big family.  That all starts at Sesto al Reghena, the rock of the Liquigas  It’s been the rock of the Liquigas team for many years and will surely give the Cannondale Pro Cycling Team an exceptional launcing framework for the 2013 season and beyond.



The Cannondale Pro Cycling Team is far from the new kid on the block, the name may be new but everything behind it is backed up by years of tried and trusted routine.  For me the framework developed by Brixia Sport allows new major sponsors, like Cannondale, to enter with piece of mind surrounding their investment.  In investing terms, to me, it’s not a speculative stock but more a blue chip stock.  As a result it means that the wheel does need to be reinvented but simply tweaked a little to keep the new project rolling.  Cannondale have made it known that they want to take a collaborative approach to research and development. This is surely to bring some exciting new developments in Cannondale cycling equipment.  As a major manufacturer, Cannondale have the opportunity to refine their products in the best test laboratories available, the world tour peloton.  This has great scope in a team like Cannondale due to the diversity of our riders, who excel in varying types of terrain.  Be it Sagan testing the Synappse on the cobbles of Flanders, or Moser pushing the evo the limit in the harsh terrain of the Ardennes.  Basso needs comfort and reliability from his evo and slice rs if he is going to challenge for a grand tour podium and Viviani will put enough watts through his bottom bracket to power a jumbo jet!  Critical feedback can be obtained, in turn giving Cannondale the opportunity to pass the knowledge and extensive research to customers through a range of bikes.  For riders it’s a golden opportunity to work with the supportive team at Cannondale as we strive to obtain every edge on the road. The Cannondale staff work to the slogan “crazy passionate performance”.  This illustrates their dedication to developing the best bicycles through continued research and innovation.  Through feedback and discussion with some of the finest engineers, we as riders are able to help them deliver the best possible equipment to take into battle. In this day and age the equipment in the professional peloton is becoming more scientific whereby any small gain can be the difference between winning and losing.  Research and development is set to play a major role for the team.


 While a new name and title sponsor will always bring changes, thanks to the leadership of Roberto Amadio it has been a very smooth transition for the team. The first training camp which took place in Tuscany in December 2012 was the first time the team had congregated to get a feel for any changes to the traditional set up.  Along with the Italian setting, many parts of the camp followed the tried and trusted routines that have carried the team into successful season after successful season.  One major change was the time spent educating riders and staff on the functionality of the equipment.  Also interesting was the use of English during these workshops.  English is certainly the prominent language in the peloton, whilst our team predominantly speaks Italian.  It is fantastic to see all riders and staff working hard to enhance their English skills.   This has helped new arrivals induction into the family happen far more rapidly.  Whilst the adjustment for the team could have been a difficult one, the Cannondale Pro Cycling Team has embraced it.  It seems to have added to the culture, enhancing the international flavour.  As a relative new comer to the team it has increased the sense of responsibility to be a part of Cannondale and Brixia Sport’s desire to further develop this international cycling team.  The name may have changed but the heart and soul well and truly remains. The foundations are already in place and with the assistance of the “Crazy Passionate Performance” people at Cannondale it is the beginning of an exciting new chapter for The Cannondale Pro Cycling Team.