New year, new challenge

An open letter from general manager Luca Guercilena to introduce the 2022 season

Last week I sat down with the riders – albeit virtually – to discuss what has been and what will be. It’s something we have always done as the start of the season draws near. To give us morale, to motivate us, but above all to honestly analyze our balance of strengths and weaknesses. We believe that only in this way can we truly improve ourselves.

In 2021, on the Men’s side, we made a good impact on the Classics, especially with Stuyven’s win at Milano-Sanremo. We were competitive and a more than good grade is deserved, but for the potential we have, I think we could have achieved more. The problems related to the Pandemic affected us in the Spring, but this should not be used as an excuse.

The same goes for the Grand Tours. Mollema gave us great joy with his stage victory in the Tour de France, but in the Giro and the Vuelta, we didn’t achieve what we expected. Of course, we can’t ignore injuries, especially as they affected captains like Ciccone and Nibali, but we also can’t deny that certain synergies didn’t work as we wanted. A similar discourse is valid for the short stage races, where we showed our strength only intermittently.

The happiest note of the year was the growth of our young riders. We’ve always believed in a gradual maturation – and this is why we invested in new talents for the upcoming season – and 2021 was significant in that sense. Riders like Simmons, Skjelmose and Tiberi showed their consistency. They did well, but we are still at the beginning, and we expect a new leap in quality in 2022.

On the Women’s side, we confirmed our solidity, especially in the most important events. Deignan’s win at Roubaix and Van Dijk’s double victory at European Road Race Championships and World Time Trial Championships were the icing on the cake of an undoubtedly positive season. But settling is not part of our DNA. I think it’s right to focus where we could have done better, such as in the sprints where – with a bit more luck – you can expect to win more.

At the end, in my eyes, 2021 has been a good season. And the confidence of the sponsors is comforting. We’ve achieved some great results, as we’ve been able to do for a couple of years now. But – again – entering a sort of ‘comfort zone’ would be the biggest mistake we can make. Our potential allows us to be ambitious throughout the season and not just at certain moments. The goal we must pursue is consistency on all terrains and continuity from January to October. Raising the bar, for us, means aiming for those two goals. How to get there? There are no special formulas, only dedication, discipline and work ethic.

This is the goal the whole team must set for itself, not just the riders. From a structural point of view, every year we try to add pieces that can improve performance; from the roster side, the key riders are those who are under the spotlight, but every rider must be ready when needed: we need a change of pace to run all at the same speed.

In our meetings, we’ve given clear goals to the riders, not just aiming for one or another race. The Classics group was strong in 2021 and must be even stronger in 2022: I ask them to prove their worth. For the stage races, we need a real leap in quality, starting from the captains, passing through the sprinters and arriving at the young riders: we need proof of consistency. To our Women’s Team, I can only ask them to confirm themselves as the best team once again in a more and more competitive World Tour and to race the Giro-Tour double, trying to continually raise the bar.

The last hope I express is to see everyone soon, in person, at the races, surrounded by the passion of our fans.

Good season to all,