What's Cool In Road Cycling

Team Neri Sottoli-Yellow Fluo: Brighter Days Ahead

INTERVIEW: Rebuilding a team after two of your star riders get busted for doping was a nightmare come true for 2013’s Vini Fantini. But team DS Luca Scinto found the support of sponsors, fans, and a new crop of riders to return as Team Neri Sottoli-Yellow Fluo. We talked with Luca, and team rider Mauro Finetto about the comeback…

How does it feel when the whole cycling world don’t want you at a race? That’s a question the Yellow Fluo team have had a chance to think about, since they were awarded a wildcard for the 2014 Giro d’Italia.

In 2013, under the name Vini Fantini, the team had 2 positive drug tests, during and just after the Giro. Both Di Luca and Santambrogio were immediately sacked by the team, and they lost their title sponsor.

Di Luca at last year’s Giro just before the news broke.

The DS of the team, Luca Scinto, threatened to walk away from the sport altogether, but had a change of heart and tried to create a new team – Yellow Fluo, named after their brightly coloured kits.

He was successful and managed to get enough funding for the team and they applied for one of the 4 wildcards for the Giro and other RCS Sport races. They faced very tough competition as Androni, Bardiani and Team Colombia seemed assured of their place. They were up against MTN Qhubeka(Africa) and IAM Cycling(Switzerland). Public opinion was in favour of the Africans but RCS Sport decided to give the Yellow Fluo, another chance.

This provoked an outcry from cyclists and fans alike. The general opinion was that the team shouldn’t have even been selected after the 2 positive tests in 2013. I totally disagree with this. The new team has been created with openness at the front of it’s ethos and will be publishing bio-passports online. None of the riders in the team have been banned, or suspected of drug use. It is wrong to punish innocent riders because of the mistakes of their teammates, who were sacked immediately.

Fans and journalists can’t possibly begin to know what it feels like for the team, so I interviewed Mauro Finetto, one of the stars of the new team, to find out his thoughts:-

Mauro heading out for a training ride last year.

Let’s go back to the 2013 Giro. You did not ride it but how did you feel when the positive tests for Di Luca and Santambrogio were announced?

Although I am still relatively young I have already seen many things, inside and out of cycling. I am not surprised about anything, much less I am amazed that much, after this news.

How did it impact on you?

I worried a lot about my future and that of the team that’s for sure.

What did you think about their actions?

I think everyone is free to do what they believe, but not in cycling, for the simple fact that it jeopardises the future of 25 families. You find yourself in there without being responsible for it, because someone else wanted to risk or “continue” to do so.

Luca Scinto worked hard to create the new team, Yellow Fluo. Did you have any doubts about joining?

Yes, Angelo Citracca and Luca Scinto have worked hard and were rewarded by sponsors and organizers. But I have to be honest, at times I feared the worst.

He has promised that all bio-passports will be published online. What do you think about this?

I have nothing to hide and to demonstrate the transparency of our team, so be it. Our team is keen to keep this line of clarity and transparency.

How did it feel when you heard you had been invited to the 2014 Giro?

It was great news and I have to be honest I was not very optimistic about it. But fortunately RCS has given confidence to the new project Yellowfluo Blacks and we reciprocate in the race!

How does it feel when people in the cycling world, cyclists and journalists, say that you did not deserve the wildcard at the Giro?

I do not see why a team with Italian sponsors in Italy, with talented guys who have never made ​​mistakes, should be penalized for the mistakes of others, and be excluded from the main Italian races. It would have been a very bad blow to our movement already in obvious difficulty.
I believe that the policy of punishing the team should end, for those who have the misfortune of being like me, several times with “wrong teammates” loses a career despite being honest. In the past I’ve already paid for the mistakes of others and also this year I skipped the Giro di Lombardia when I was in very good condition, after months of work at 100% …. is this right? If the team complies with all the rules imposed by the UCI and the Federation of it’s membership, I think the punishment should be paid only to those who are truly responsible, and this is good for the whole movement.

How “clean” do you think the peloton is now?

I do not know how clean, I know how I work and how I have always worked, but I think we are on a good road.

Can cycling do anymore to help with the problem?

I believe that continuing with this line can be a good thing, our sport is already doing a lot and we have to continue like this.

What message would you give young cyclists about drugs in cycling?

Do not compromise, not to cheat takes character and personality, psychological weakness leads to fear and therefore if you cheat, you are weak. Change the sport! Cycling needs to be hard!

Mauro says it very well. Why should he be punished for the mistakes of others? He shouldn’t!

What happened in 2013 was a disaster for the team, the Giro and cycling. The 2 riders are being dealt with by the authorities and the new team are committed to openness and transparency. They start 2014 with a point to prove and thanks to RCS Sport, they have an opportunity to do this at some of the biggest races in the world. I’m delighted that the organisers have taken such a brave step.

The new team has started really well and took a brilliant 1-2 at the opening Italian race of the season, GP Costa Degli Etruschi. New signing, Simone Ponzi was 1st and Finetto was 2nd.

Things couldn’t have started any better for the team with a great 1-2 result.

Here are the thoughts of Luca Scinto, DS of the Yellow Fluo:-

What motivated you to create the new team?

Our passion, the trust in our goals in the cycling world and our fixed motivation to continue in our project, growing good riders in a strong team image.

How hard was it to get funding?

Sincerely we were lucky, since all our historical sponsors remained with us. This was the first motivation to continue.


How did it feel when you got the wildcard to the Giro?

It was absolutely the best news of the year. With this wildcard, we are sure about the future of our project.

What do you say to the people that think you shouldn’t be there?

We worked hard, without thinking about the opinion of other people. To all, we explained only our strong motivation, and our trust in RCS organisation.

You said that the Yellow Fluo would be an open team and will publish bio-passports online. What more can you do to regain trust?

Our web house is working on the platform, that is near to the end. During this training camp (the team is in Montecatini, from 10th to 17th February) they will come to explain us the function and all the details. In the middle of March we will go out with the first publication.

Was it important to start the season strong?

The mix of our success is always the same: good riders, strong motivation to become a group, clear political and now other strong controls. All together, these things bring us to a good result. But it’s clear that the most important race has still to arrive.

Can we expect more of the same in Trofeo Laigueglia?

For sure the fans can expect a race with our team ready to attack, to be protagonists, as in all the races. (Ed: In yesterday’s race the team were very active in the chase and Matteo Rabottini lit up the closing stages of the race but it was Lampre’s Jose Serpa who took the prize.)

Depending on your opinion you will find the decision of RCS Sport either brave or foolish. I am fully behind the new team and firmly believe that they will prove themselves and becoming the first team to publish their bio-passport results is a good step. They have a group of riders with a strong motivation to prove people wrong and this should help them gain many good results in 2014. Viva Yellow Fluo!

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