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Dauphiné Libéré
Photo ©: Sirotti

News for June 3, 2002

Edited by Jeff Jones

Giro d'Italia news

Stage 20 wrap up

The 85th Giro d'Italia came to a conclusion today in Milan, with a short but fast criterium around the centre to finish off and showcase the stars of the event. Not surprisingly, given his form this year, Mario Cipollini (Acqua e Sapone) racked up yet another win in front of Alessandro Petacchi and Rene Haselbacher, in similar style to his stage 18 victory. Petacchi had Lombardi's wheel, and ended up leading out Cipollini instead of the other way round. The Fassa Bortolo man's time will come, but for now it's all Cipollini.

There were of course no changes to the overall classification, with Paolo Savoldelli (Index-Alexia) maintaining his 1'41 lead over Tyler Hamilton (CSC-Tiscali) and 2'12 over Pietro Caucchioli (Alessio). Savoldelli finished 2nd in the Giro in 1999 and suffered two years of back and team problems before he was able to stand on the top step of the podium.

Stage 20 full results & report
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Cipollini gets past himself and Merckx

In winning his sixth Giro d'Italia stage today, Mario Cipollini surpassed his own record of stage wins in a single edition of the Giro, as well as moving closer to Alfredo Binda's all time record of 41 stage wins (Cipo now has 40). For those statistically minded, Cipollini also surpassed Eddy Merckx's record of 133 wins in stage races (Cipo now has 134). If one considers just stage wins in the Giro and the Tour de France, Cipollini has 52 compared to Merckx's 59. SuperMario has yet to win a stage in the Vuelta España, where Eddy Merckx won 6.

Now, will the Giro organisers pay Cipollini to stay away next year as they did Binda in 1930, because he won too much? Cipollini doesn't think so: "I needed one more win to equal Binda's record, but it does not matter as I will get that next year. I hope to finish with 42 in front of my name. It is gratifying after many years of sacrifices."

As for the rest of the Giro, "It's been a very difficult Giro for reasons that are quite well known, and there was a lot of stress in the peloton. These victories have made it a great Giro for me."

Cipollini paid a double tribute, "The first is for my team who have done exceptional work. It does not seem like it, but our train travels at 60 kilometres per hour and has now reached almost perfect automation. The second is for the public on the roads who were exceptional despite everything that happened in this race."

As for the World Championships in October, "We will see. One step at a time. Now I will need to recuperate my strength, in particular my mental energy. It was a difficult race with everything that happened. I will sit down with Ballerini (Italian selector/technical director) to discuss the situation. I hope that Franco will take this Giro into account when drafting the final program for October 13."

"But I repeat that I will now get rid of the tensions I built up in this Giro, and will find my usual 'grinta' again."

Finally, Cipollini had good words to say about the winner, Paolo Savoldelli: "Savoldelli winning is a special end to the Giro. Savoldelli's win shows that everything that has happened can't ruin the beauty of this sport."

More post stage comments

Paolo Savoldelli (Index-Alexia, 1st overall)

Savoldelli was as surprised as anyone to end up in the maglia rosa: "Honestly, I did not expect to win this Giro. I had started the race in the hope to win a stage. In the final week I found that I was unexpectedly strong."

Tyler Hamilton (CSC-Tiscali, 2nd overall)

Tyler Hamilton came close in his first Giro, but needed a little more luck and a little more strength on the climbs: "I did my best and now I know I can compete with the best. Savoldelli was stronger in the key stages. I must accept this result."

Alessandro Petacchi (Fassa Bortolo, 2nd stage)

As he did in stage 18, 28 year old Alessandro Petacchi once again got himself on Giovanni Lombardi's wheel in preparation for the final sprint. And although Lombardi gave him a better leadout this time, Cipollini still had no problem in coming around him.

"I should say this, I lost by a few centimetres but against a great champion. I hope that I can be first or that he stops winning. Mario is formidable and has a great team. I didn't have the power to do any more."

Amateur video of the Casagrande incident

Today's TV coverage of the final stage of the Giro d'Italia showed some footage of the Francesco Casagrande vs. John Fredy Garcia incident, which occurred during stage 15 and resulted in Casagrande's eventual disqualification for causing Garcia to crash. The footage did not show the crash itself, however it did show that there was a lot of contact between Casagrande and the Colombian who were both going for the mountain sprint. Casagrande clearly moved from the left hand side of the road to the centre where Garcia was, and was the first to push the Colombian with his right elbow.

The jury had relied on this footage as well as the testimony of several other riders to disqualify Casagrande for aggressive behaviour towards Garcia, who finished up with 30 stitches in his face.

Bernard Hinault in favour of life ban

Five time winner of the Tour and three time winner of the Giro, Bernard Hinault, is in favour of life bans for riders convicted of doping. Hinault made the comments to AFP at last week's presentation of the Tour de l'Avenir. "We have not been hard enough and the results are plain to see. Those who take drugs have no place in cycling. It is necessary to ban them for life. That would make them think."

"If the cycling teams behaved correctly, all racers who take drugs would not be able to work again. The directeurs sportifs should hold their word. Everyone must respect this."

"There are certain cyclists who have had a one year suspension and they can start again. When one earns big salaries - between 45,000 and 60,000 euros - in cycling, one does not have the right to tarnish the sport."

"It always saddens me," added Hinault. "It's a pity that some continue to behave like idiots while we have the advantage of controls."

Television network pressured to remove EPO ad

The US television network OLN, that has been broadcasting the Giro d'Italia, has removed an advertisement for 'Procrit' (a prescription version of EPO), after pressure from incredulous and outraged viewers who believed it was inappropriate. EPO and its variants have been the scourge of cycling and other endurance sports for over a decade, and although the ads were not aimed at cyclists, that was the perception.

EPO is primarily used for kidney and cancer patients, who are suffering from anaemia after undergoing dialysis or chemotherapy. It's ability to greatly speed up the production of red blood cells makes it attractive for endurance sports as well.

As it turns out, the decision to air the commercials during cycling events was no more than an unfortunate oversight on behalf of OLN. Procrit is made by Ortho Biotech, a division of Johnson & Johnson. When questioned about it by the New York Times, director of public affairs Carol Goodrich said that "The commercial will not appear on this type of programming again," adding by way of explanation that Ortho Biotech purchased a block of advertising with OLN, and was not aware that these ads were being shown during cycling events.

"We discourage the misuse of the drug by anyone, including athletes," said Goodrich. "And we agree that it is inappropriate for advertisements for Procrit to appear during a cycling event."

The president of OLN, Roger Williams, said that it was merely a coincidence, and it was "not an effort by the drug company or the agency or us to market the drug for improper usage among cyclists. We're clearly of a mind that disagrees with drugs being used in sports."