Newly named Drone Hopper-Androni Giocattoli have set up an ambitious plan to join the UCI WorldTour by 2024.
The team that has an average age of just 24 has become known over the years as one of the best outfits for bringing through new talent with the likes of Giro d’Italia and Tour de France winner Egan Bernal (Ineos Grenadiers), Ivan Sosa (Movistar) and Fausto Masnada (Deceuninck – Quick-Step) in recent years.
Now, though, they are looking further forward as a team with their new sponsor of Drone Hopper, a Spanish aerospace company that designs and makes drones. The new sponsor has injected additional funds into the team, and expected growth from the company predicts more to come.
In an interview with Tuttobici, team boss Gianni Savio said: “We have a four-year contract [with Drone Hopper]. The growth of the team will totally depend on the growth of Drone Hopper.
“We do not hide that the hope is to have the budget to become WorldTour in 2024. But we all know that the economic gap between a Professional and a WorldTour team has grown enormously in recent years, so being able to have a similar budget is far from easy. But we believe in it.”
The jump in budget between pro continental teams and those of the WorldTour is vast with only Alpecin-Fenix and TotalEnergies likely being closest. Some teams like Ineos Grenadiers can have budgets around €40 million per year.
The Italian team boss managed to get Drone Hopper on board thanks to former rider Juan Hortelano who is now general manager of the business. He and Savio held meetings with the business CEO Pablo Flores also being keen on the sport of cycling as well as believing cycling is a “great advertising vehicle”.
Androni have moved away from the predominantly Italian team for 2022 with just eight of the 22 riders coming from Italy. There will be more focus on the young South Americans such as 19-year-old Brandon Rojas and 22-year-old Didier Merchan, among others.
But the team will have to rely on older riders to get wins with Jhonatan Restrepo, Jefferson Cepeda, Natnael Tesfatsion and new signing Eduard-Michel Grosu likely being those riders.
Savio is realistic about going for the WorldTour though: “It’s almost impossible. But that’s normal. “We have a budget that fluctuates between 2.5 and 2.7 million per year.
“We have a budget that is one fifth of the least accredited WorldTour team. With passion and competence, we can reduce the gap a little, but it is very difficult to emerge at very high levels. Then, maybe, from 2024 we too will have a budget like that.”