Back to competing (part two)

In the meantime, since 1999 Wilier had established a lucrative association with Liquigas, initially managed by Dino Zandegù. The two stars were Davide Rebellin and Sergey Gonchar. Also Denis Zanette from Pordenone was part of the organisation, passing away a few years later. In 2000, under the guidance of Roberto Amadio, the first impressive results came in: the Ukrainian Gonchar won the World Time Trial Champion in Plouay, while Rebellin got one of his victories in the Giro del Veneto. The golden year of Liquigas was undoubtedly 2001. Rebellin made good and bad time at the Tour Méditerranéen, at the Tirreno-Adriatico and the Tour of the Basque Country, also winning Larciano, Prato and the Giro di Romagna. Rastelli won the first stage of the Giro d’Italia, from Giulianova to Francavilla a Mare, while Zanette came in behind in at Jesolo-Ljubljana. That year Gianni Faresin also won the Matteotti Trophy.

2001 is Davide Rebellin’s best year.

Rastelli wins a sprint in the first stage of the 2001 Giro.

Giro d’Italia 2001: the late Denis Zanette
wins solo in the Lubjana stage.

Francesco Casagrande suffers.

Having backed Mercatone Uno and Pantani in 2002, Lino Gastaldello and his sons Michele, Enrico and Andrea, now a stable feature in the company’s management structure, decided to increase their commitment to international professional cycling by establishing a two year sponsorship agreement with Giuseppe Saronni’s Team Lampre, and with Gerolsteiner of the team manager Hans Holczer. It was the year when Francesco Casagrande, in a blue-fuchsia jersey, won the Agostoni Cup and the Melinda Trophy, while Davide Rebellin, captain of the German team, was awarded a stage in the Paris-Nice and the Gran premio Industria e Commercio di Prato. The choice of Germany was dictated by both the “home” champion and by a marketing strategy that placed the country among the most solid commercial outlets for the company from Rossano. In 2004, with the season underway, Saronni managed to grab the current world champion Igor Astarloa, for whom Wilier has created a special bicycle inspired by colours of the rainbow.
Nevertheless the Basque did not meet expectations, limiting his exploits to the first place in a stage of the Brixia Tour. If on the Italian front there was little to shout about, internationally the Gerolsteiner-Wilier Triestina duo was placed to the top of world cycling thanks to the formidable trio of Davide Rebellin, which put in line Amstel Gold Race, Freccia Vallone and Liège-Bastogne-Liège in a quick and enthusiastic sequence. Rebellin, then also the winner of the Melinda, earned the position of leader in the classification of the World Championship, which he lost to Bettini only at the last trial of the year, the Giro di Lombardia. France was after Germany: in 2005 Wilier Trestina supplied and sponsored Team Cofidis, the Pro Tour team which featured Stewart O’Grady as it most charismatic racer. To do the honour were above all the team members of the Australian racer: Matt White in a stage of the Tour Down Under, David Moncoutie in the 12th stage of the Tour de France, Leonardo Bertagnolli in a stage of the Vuelta Espana (Tour of Spain). 2006: Cofidis, Lampre, Cunego….

2002: The Team Gerolsteiner.

2002: Davide Rebellin wins the Amstel Gold Race, Liege-Bastogne-Liege and Fleche Wallonne.

2002: Davide Rebellin wins the Amstel Gold Race, Liege-Bastogne-Liege and Fleche Wallonne.

2005: Team Cofidis
Matthew White during a stage of the Tour Down Under. Moncoutie during a stage of the Vuelta al Pais Vasco.

In 2006 the ambassadors of the Wilier Triestina brand in first class world cycling were the athletes of Team Cofidis and Lampre Fondital. The return of the Lombard team managed by Giuseppe Saronni coincided with the arrival in Wilier of Damiano Cunego, the winner of the 2004 Giro d’Italia. In addition to Cunego, winner of the Giro del Trentino among others, and the talented Bennati, the blue-fuchsia team included one of Gastaldellos’ neighbours: Alessandro Ballan from Castelfranco. He opened his season by winning the Laigueglia and turned out to be a man of the great classics, coming in third in the Paris-Roubaix, fifth in the Tour of Flanders, eighth in a Milan-Sanremo ridden like a great professional. In France the season opened with Leonardo Bertagnolli winning the Tour du Haut Var and the sixth stage of the Tyrrhenian Adriatic. The Belgian Rick Verbrugghe, another Cofidis racer, rekindling his love affair with the Giro d’Italia, won the Saltara stage solo.

2006: Bertagnolli during the Tirreno-Adriatico.

2006: Victory of Verbrugghe at the Giro d’Italia.

Cunego wins the Giro of Trentino.

Bennati wins solo the last stage of the Valenciana Vuelta.

Vila wins a stage of the Paris-Nice.

2006: Team Lampre Fondital, Ballan at the finish of the Trofeo Laigueglia.

Next issue 

29th October 2013