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Mt Hood Classic
Photo ©: Swift

News flash for May 29, 2002

Edited by Jeff Jones

Casagrande disqualified for causing crash

John Fredy Garcia
Photo: © Yuzuru Sunada
Click for larger image

The Giro d'Italia has lost its third big favourite in a week as Francesco Casagrande (Fassa Bortolo) was disqualified by the race jury after causing the crash of Colombian rider John Fredy Garcia (Selle Italia) in the early part of the 15th stage. In the lead up to the day's only climb at km 21, Casagrande, who was the leader of the mountains classification, forced Garcia into the barriers. The Colombian crashed and injured himself quite heavily, requiring 30 stitches to his head and neck and forced to abandon the race.

An angry Garcia and his team manager Gianni Savio protested to the race jury after the stage. According to Savio, many riders witnessed what happened and saw Casagrande was predominantly at fault.

The race jury, headed by Dutchman Martin Swinkels, examined the evidence which included rider testimonies and pictures from an amateur photographer who was at the climb. Swinkels was clear: "After the climb, various riders reported what they had seen. Casagrande behaved in an agressive manner towards the Colombian."

Francesco Casagrande
Photo: © Sirotti
Click for larger image

"Through the conscious actions of Casagrande, Garcia fell heavily. And the jury acted according to the rules," added Swinkels.

Casagrande protested that "I did nothing wrong. I did not deliberately cause any problem for him."

It is the second time in two years that a Fassa Bortolo rider has been excluded from the race by the jury. Last year, Wladimir Belli was thrown out after punching a spectator on a climb. Also, their leader Dario Frigo was excluded after he admitted he was in possession of banned drugs. Ironically, Frigo (now riding for Tacconi) is a real chance for victory in this Giro, along with Evans and Hamilton.