Every year when the Grand Tour wildcard teams get announced there is the customary rumbles of national “favoritism“. How some of those wildcards don’t deserve their spot – “its just because they are Italian“. How they don’t have the riders that warrant them getting a ride ahead of the bigger names. Bardiani-CSF is one of those teams. Italian through and through, a team built of up and coming young talent. A team that in Belfast were preparing in camper vans dwarfed by the bigger buses and trucks of the big budgets. Yet here we are more than half way through this years GIRO and they have two stage wins, and have been in the action practically every day since Belfast. Not just interested in getting “TV time” for their sponsors they have been chasing stage wins from the start. That is two stage wins more than a lot of the super teams like Sky, with what seems like an endless budget and an abundance of GC contenders. So who actually benefited from the money shot? As their stage winners crossed the line, arms aloft in victory, who were the sponsors that have gotten behind this young team and brought us two exciting victories, and maybe some of the next generation of Italian racing talent. A kit that can’t afford to be cool and minimal, every inch is covered with fractions of what it takes to scrape together the budget to compete at this level. Names we have barely heard of, sponsors making products that mostly sell things that we will never buy. So why are they sponsoring this team – probably because they love the sport and get more for their media money off these two wins that buying straight up advertising.