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A turnaround for Commesso
Salvatore "Toto" Commesso was not in a good mood at the end of yesterday's 155 kilometre stage from Evian-Les-Bains to Lausanne. He finished 129th out of 130, 22.42 down on Erik Dekker after going out the back on the first climb. Commesso more than made up for that today though, as he rode to an emphatic victory over Alexandre Vinokourov of Telekom. Attacking after 3 kilometres when you've been hammered the day before takes a bit of doing.
Doping accusations by Mapei boss
The president of Mapei-Quick Step, Giorgio Squinzi today accused the top riders in the Tour of blood doping, after Mapei once again have not been able to obtain a high GC place. Their best rider, Manuel Beltran is currently 10th at 13:08, a long way off the podium.
"My team is in line with the predictions: we won three stages and might well gain another. So we are content because ours is a team that does not take risks from the point of view of blood doping," said Squinzi to La Gazzetta dello Sport in Rome. "We know well that we are the best team in the world, but in stage races we can't compete because without blood doping it is impossible to make the top five. Our best rider can maybe come 7th, but for us that is the same as winning the Tour."
"It is a tough accusation I know, but it is the truth unfortunately. Our sponsors can't accept the fact that we must give up competing for the win in the big stage races if there are no compromises. An alternative would be to forget all anti-drug controls, as is the case in American professional sports and everyone is free to commit suicide by their own hand. Instead here there are rules that are false and do not record the truth."
Squinzi and Mapei still remain supportive of cycling though as their image is tied to it and they have made some big investments. "We can't leave or we will lose. By the end of the year we will be the number one team in the world. We have also one two of the biggest one day classics: Paris Roubaix and Liege-Bastogne-Liege. We have had a huge amount of TV exposure this year, so the return is there," he said.
He didn't explain why two Mapei-riders (Andrea Noé and Pavel Tonkov) came in the top five of the Giro this year.
After his third victory in this year's Tour de France, Dutchman Erik Dekker was beside himself on the podium, also being congratulated by IOC president, Juan Antonio Samaranch in Lausanne.
"Unbelievable! I thought in the finale: shall I go crazy today? The first 30 km were very good, but I wasn't good on the climb. But in the final stages I thought, why not? Try it. And I found Mario Aerts. But I have already two stages, so it was necessary to bring Mario to the front, and I could wait for the final sprint. I could wait till the end. Again, unbelievable."
Cipo visits the Tour
Although he was a DNS in this year's Tour de France, Mario Cipollini's presence will still be felt. The Saeco sprinter took a break from training to be at the finish of today's stage in Fribourg-En-Brisgau, Germany. It was a good day for him to watch, as his pint-sized teammate, Salvatore Commesso won the stage after a marathon 243.5 km breakaway.
Cipollini is training but has not commenced racing yet. He may participate in the Six Days of Fiorenzuola.
This morning, the UCI blood tested 29 riders of the 129 left in the race. The results were once again negative, after riders from Rabobank, Saeco, Telekom, Mapei, Vini Caldirola and Festina were bled. Apart from the three riders at the start of the Tour (Rossano Brasi, Serguei Ivanov and Andrej Hauptmann), no-one else has failed a hematocrit test.