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Paweł Poljański, Polish National U-23 champion, was forced to withhold the start of his professional career due to financial problems of Vini Fantini-Selle Italia - the team he signed with last November. 22-year-old Pole encountered major problem with registration and as a result quitted the team, having previously waited five months for registration and possibility to race as a neo-pro.
Poljański had a successful 2012 season. He won Polish National championships in U-23 category and gained attention in Italy, winning GP Ezio del Rosso-Montecatini and taking several podium spots in other U-23 races, such as Gran Premio Valdaso a Rubbianello. He received several offers from ProContinental and ProTour teams. The choice seemed to be resonable - Vini Fantini offered him the possibility to develop as a rider in an environment he already got to know living and training in Lucca, Italy.
Entering the world of professional cycling through second division was supposed to help him acclimatize in the peleton, get used to racing on the highest level and later allow to look for his own opportunities. He signed the two-year contract in late November and started preparations for the debut as a neo-pro. The debut that never took place.
- The thing is that Vini Fantini had serious financial problems and was unable to register me. I hadn't the faintest idea that something is wrong. Everything seemed to be fine - both during negociations and inking the contact. I realized that things are not going in the right direction because they were waiting with the registration
- Poljański explained.
As a brand new neo-pro, Poljański needed to be introduced to biological passport program and his contract had to be registered by the UCI. Young rider hoped to start racing in February, trying to understand that the procedures and talks with sponsors take time and patience. But the days were passing and nothing changed.
Poljański admits that the whole situation took him completely aback.
- I didn't know what to do. I thought that it's all going to clear up. That's why I waited. They told me that my registration will be completed when the talks with sponsors end
- young Pole recalls.
After four months of uncertainty and no payments received, Poljański made a decision. He wanted to withdraw his contract at the begining of April and put an end to the drama that costed him precious time, races and his dreams. This step wasn't welcomed by the team and its initial refusal only resulted in longer negociations.
At that time, the team managed to finalize the talks with sponsor - Acqua e Sapone. For the owners of the company from Abruzzo, the aim was to support Danilo di Luca in his efforts to sign a contract with Scinto's team. Moreover, in February, Farnese, team's main sponsor, sold 37% of its shares to Alessandro Benetton's investment group, giving the team the hope for the solution to its financial problems. Di Luca's bid to sign a contract and ride his national Grand Tour was strongly supported not only by Acqua e Sapone owners but by his friend and main sponsor Valantino Sciotti. Luca Scinto, however, didn't want him in the team but finally bend to the sponsors' will and agreed to include 37-year old rider.
Di Luca waited for the registration just like Poljański. He eventually signed the contract on April 26th and was selected to ride Giro d'Italia - his last Grand Tour as it later turned out. UCI notified Italian rider on May 24th that he tested positive for EPO in an out-of-competition test before Giro d'Italia. Di Luca, who has previously been implicated in doping scandals and banned for performance enhancing drugs use, was fired by the team and is now facing a lifetime ban.
In April the financial assets became available and the team started thinking of registering Poljański. The Pole had a different plan and turned down the offer, demanding contract's termination at the begining of the month. The talks lasted for a couple of weeks, leading to mutual agreement in May. Poljański succeeded and left the team.
- I think I have some other options. If it was the only one, I'd probably stay. But after all this, I just wanted to leave as soon as possible.
Despite such a poor start of the season, Poljański is looking forward to new challenges and tries to find positive aspects of the story.
- I'm disappointed because almost the whole first part of the season is lost. I've been training a lot but I haven't raced at all. But I'm happy this is all over. I don't blame Scinto, he's a great man. The team had no money - that's not his fault.
It may be over with Vini Fantini but 22-year-old hasn't abadoned his desire to become a professional cyclist. For the next few months he'll be racing in Italy, in Acqua&Sapone Team Mocaiana.
- Next year, I won't make such a mistake and I'll sign a contract with another team, perhaps from the first division
- Poljański declares confidently. And starts racing in U-23 races in Italy again - last Sunday he took 5th place in Trofeo Leoni.