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Sunday, January 3, 2016

2016 Team Previews: Zalf-Euromobil and Team Colpack

The past couple of seasons, I have been trumpeting the fall of Zalf-Euromobil and how Team Colpack would soon usurp them as the team of Italian amateur cycling. I truly believed it this past year but thanks to some monster years by Gianni Moscon & Marco Maronese along with a heaping scoop of lower class wins, Zalf-Euromobil was still the winningest team amongst Italy while Colpack, who had one of their strongest teams to date, was still 19 victories behind the Green-White-Blue-Red machine.

I'm not going to pull the wool over my eyes yet again. No false realities for 2016. Zalf-Euromobil will remain the winningest team in Italy. Team Colpack will be 2nd even with the amount of talent they are bringing back and having a larger team that Zalf. Of course I say this but still hope that the Zalf monolith is taken down because I enjoy watching races where a team doesn't go 1-2-3-4-6-8-9.

Zalf-Euromobil

First off, let me start from my preview of the team last year. I described their returning riders as "...a bit lacking." I had little to say about Marco Maronese but I did mention that he was a Christmas baby. I also might have used the words "down year" at one point. My prediction for them? 37 wins and 1 UCI win.

They were just off a record 57 win season in 2014 with 51 wins, roughly half of which came from returning riders, and 4 UCI wins (not including Moscon's wins with the national team). Maronese ran to 8 wins including Vicenza-Bionde.

Chris is exited to unpack his new flatpack furniture. He has always enjoyed assembly and has had dreams of being a mechanic. Upon removing the packing tape, he pulls the directions out and begins to read. "Direction 1...take off shoes and socks. Direction 2...place sweaty foot in mouth."
You can read more about the Venetian's team's sordid history here.

The big departure is obviously Gianni Moscon, who is headed to Team SKY. Other notable departures include Dan Pearson to Team Wiggins, Enrico Salvador to Unieuro-Wilier, Simone Velasco to Bardiani and Nicola Toffali to Roth Gruppe. Andrea Toniatti is crossing over to the darkside and joining the

They have a pretty good roster staying on which include Pietro Andreoletti, Nicola Bagioli, Gianmarco Begnoni, Andrea Borso, Marco Gaggia, Marco Maronese, Gianluca Milani, Filippo Rocchetti, Nicolò Rocchi, Andrea Vendrame and Giacomo Zilio. Maronese is the top dog but Milani and Rocchi are two big returns with 8 wins together. 

The riders that are coming in include Michael Bresciani, Filippo Calderaro, Nicola Conci, Nicola Da Dalt, Davide Gabburo, Riccardo Lucca, Francesco Rosa and Michele Toffaletti.


Zalf are hoping Conci will be able to do this 
Conci and Lucca are both coming from the junior ranks. Conci won 7 races last year including two UCI events and was 6th in the Worlds RR in Richmond. Lucca was 2nd place 11 times last year including in the Giro Lunigiana overall but also had 6 victories in Italy.

Bresciani is coming from Roth-Skoda after a long year; he seems to be able to go well in one-day races and has a decent kick. Calderaro is a young sprinter that seems promising. Da Dalt makes the move from Selle Italia and had a strong year last year in the time trial as well as in hillier one-day races. Toffaletti had some good rides in smaller one day races.

The best pickups include Gabburo and Rosa. Gabburo is a very solid all-around rider that was all over the top 5 last year, especially in one-day races. He can also climb well so while he might not be GC material, he is certainly handy in the mountains. Rosa comes from the evil empire and was a very strong leadout man for Consonni but more than that, he can climb well and mixed it up in hillier races. With some more freedom, he could have a breakout season.

Prediction: 45 total wins (2 UCI wins)

Team Colpack 

Switching from Veneto to Lombardia, which is little more than a stone's throw away. The team headquarters are only an couple of hours away from one another. The white and black of Colpack had their best season to date with 32 wins and 34 second place finishes not to mention that Simone Consonni nearly won the U23 World RR Championship after a horrifically close sprint against professional Kevin Ledanois. This year, they will be celebrating their 25th year of existence.

At one point, the team was planning to lose 4 riders to the professional ranks but after Lampre and Brent Copeland led some riders along and fucked them over, only Davide Martinelli (Etixx) and Giulio Ciccone (Bardiani) are turning professional. Others leaving include Edoardo Affini (Selle Italia), Alessandro Bresciani (Delio Gallina), Damiano Cima (Viris Maserati), Rosa (Zalf) and Alberto Tocchella (General Store).


Something wrong, Simone?
While Ciccone and Martinelli are big loses, they aren't selling the farm by any means. They keep a strong contingent of riders that are led by Simone Consonni and Edward Ravasi, both of which were the victims of Lampre's shadowy ways. (It should be mentioned that Colpack has officially teamed up with Lampre and will be a pipeline for the fuscia/blue team.) Consonni needs no introduction as he is the best sprinter in the Italian amateur scene while Ravasi is one of the best pure climbers in amateur Italy.

Past those two, they bring back sprinter Riccardo Minali, who will be nipping at Consonni's heels, climber Fausto Masnada, workhorse Oliveira Troia along with some other strong riders like Francesco Lamon, Attilio Viviani and time trialist Seid Lizde.

They are picking up 12 riders for this year, 5 of which are coming out of the junior ranks. The junior pick-ups include Italian Junior TT Champion Simone Bevilacqua (no relation to team GM Antonio Bevilacqua), Nicholas Dalla Valle, Carloalberto Giordani, Marco Negrente and Enrico Zanoncello.  All of them had wins in Italy and Negrente showed well in the Giro della Lunigiana, where he was 6th overall.

Out of the other 7 signings, there are 2 or 3 big signings. Filippo Ganna graduated high school just this past year but once he was focused on the bike full-time, the results started to flow in. Ganna won the Chrono Champenois ahead the likes of Martinelli and Miles Scotson and finished 13th in the U23 TT in his first season. Ukranian Mark Padun was another first year that made some waves after he was 8th overall in the Zavod Miru U23 and won the hilly final stage of the Giro della Regioni. Andrea Toniatti is out of the U23 ranks but he had been a mainstay at Zalf for the past few seasons but it looking for change of scenery, which could propel him to some one-day glory.

The others joining the team include Carlo Franco, Luca Muffolini, Federico Sartor and Simone Viero.

Colpack is certainly bringing a nice team together that has a bevy of sprinters along with some strong one-day racers for hillier courses. Consonni, Minali and Viviani will be riding on the track, where they all have some success but with Elia Viviani getting the nod for the omnium (99.99% sure), none will be going to Rio unless Italy qualifies for the team pursuit.

Prediction: 41 wins (4 UCI wins)

To end, a haiku...

Italy, cycling
Bergamo, Lombardia
Same ol' story once again

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