Update: Owner Chad Thompson informs us that it was in fact the American consulate that denied the application.
The KENDA Pro Cycling presented by GEARGRINDER cycling team hit a snag in their season preparations this week as one of their premier riders was denied a VISA by the American consulate in Milan, Italy, just weeks before the scheduled start of their training camp in Georgia on February 26. Luca Damiani, a recent signing for the KPC team who spent last season with Colavita, was informed February 2 that his VISA application had been denied citing immigration fears, effectively grounding him from his planned travel stateside from his home in Italy to attend the first training camp of the season.
Team owner and general manager Chad Thompson was surprised by the news. Ã¢â‚¬Å“He told us the day before that he was going to get his VISA from the consulate and the next morning, I got an email from him with Ã¢â‚¬ËœBad NewsÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ as the subject line, and thatÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s when we learned.Ã¢â‚¬Â
The American consulate flagged Damiani as an immigration risk because he does not personally own a home in Italy and is not drawing a salary from an Italian company. Ã¢â‚¬Å“ItÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s clear that Luca has no intention of leaving Italy for good.Ã¢â‚¬Â Thompson said. Luca recently raced for the Italian national team at cyclocross worlds, and has round trip tickets booked for him that returns him to Italy at the end of the season; hardly an immigration risk according to Thompson.
There is hope, however, for the Italian star to make it to KPC training camp on time, but it is both costly and time consuming. The team must raise $3,230 to pay for legal fees and applications to apply for a P-1 corporate VISA, a far cry from the expected $300 cost of a travelers VISA. To help raise funds, Thompson partnered with Matteo Studios to produce and sell Ã¢â‚¬Å“Free LucaÃ¢â‚¬Â t-shirts in an attempt to pay for the process. DamianiÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s contract specifies that he is responsible for his VISA, but the team is doing what they can to get him stateside before camp.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“Obviously itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s important that he is here for camp,Ã¢â‚¬Â Thompson said. Ã¢â‚¬Å“ThatÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s where he gets all his bikes, gets all his clothing, and gets to meet the team. ItÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s the only time of year the entire team and support staff are all together, so itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s important that everyone be there.
The shirts can be purchased online here for $25, and all proceeds go toward DamianiÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s VISA. If any additional funds are raised beyond the amount needed for the VISA, they will go to the Texas Tough cause, a charity that the team has partnered with to raise money for the coming season.