Whenever someone I’ve not heard of wins a bike race in Europe, I inevitably try to find more information abut them on the web.
Oscar Gatto from Vini-Fantini – Sella Italia won this year’s Dwars door Vlanderen and I said to myself, (betraying my fledgling understanding of all things cycling) “Who is Oscar Gatto and who are Vini-Fantini?”
They sound like an Italian entrant to the Eurovision Song Contest.
By the way, it looks like this year will be another big-hair year for Eurovision.
Marco Mengoni from Italy and Aliona Moon from Moldova sporting big hair for Eurovision 2013
Anyhow, Dwars door Vlanderen in English means “Across Flanders”. It is one of the Flanders Classics: a series of six cycle races held in the northern region of Belgium, obviously called Flanders.
The other Flanders Classics are:
Vini Fantini Selle-Italia are an Italian professional cycling team who are one of 2013’s UCI Professional Continental Teams.
Pro Continental Teams are the first tier down from the top UCI Pro Teams, such as BMC, SaxoBank-Tinkoff, Katusha and Sky, which we all know so well from competing in the Tour de France, Giro d’Italia, etc.
But the riders in the Pro Continental Teams are still very fit, very talented individuals, as evidenced from the fact that people like Oscar Gatto and Gerald Ciolek win some of the most lauded races in Europe from time to time.
The UCI sets participation quotas for races in its calendar. Dwars door Vlaanderen, being a very popular race, has had it share of issues in deciding which teams will be included. It is only allowed to field 50% Pro Tour teams, the rest being made up of Pro Continental Teams like Vini Fantini Selle-Italia.
Vini Fantini Selle-Italia have an impressive line-up of cyclists, including Stefano Garzelli, Oscar Gatto, Franceso Chicci and Mauro Santambrogio, all with a swag of wins between them.
Mauro Santambrogio, who previously rode for BMC, has come in the top five in six races so far this season.
The team has a partnership with Cipollini-Giordana-Galassia women’s cycling team as can be seen from the image below where they are endorsing Lazer helmets with their male counterparts.
(Does it surprise you that Mario Cipollini sponsors a women’s cycling team? His bike company’s website slogan is “The champion, the power, his tool”)
Anyhow, I’ve ended up rambling more than I had planned.
For more information on Vini Fantini Selle-Italia head over tho their website, which is packed with images and stories.
And each time you hear of a winner from a cycling team you’ve never heard of, look them up!