Italy, May 19-June 10, 2001
Stage 18 - June 7: Imperia - S. Anna Di Vinadio, 230 km
Complete Live Report
Start time: 1325 CEST
After the raids on rider hotels last night by the Italian police, today's 230 kilometre stage from Imperia to Sant Anna Di Vinadio has been - at the very least - shortened to 133 kilometres. A meeting between the organisers, UCI president Hein Verbruggen and the team managers at 0900 this morning came to this conclusion and the stage was rescheduled to start at 1325.
However, in the latest developments, it seems that the riders may not start at all. Marco Pantani (who was not going to start anyway due to bronchitis), Mario Cipollini, Dario Frigo, Abraham Olano, Danilo Di Luca, and Maglia Rosa Gilberto Simoni have all just arrived (60 riders in total) to meet with Hein Verbruggen and race director Carmine Castellano.
The meeting started at 1000 and we will keep you posted with the results.
The stage has been cancelled, according to official reports. "The organisers have cancelled the 18th stage because of 'technical reasons'".
Today's stage was to have been the "queen stage" of the Giro: 230 kilometres with five climbs, two 2nd category, one 3rd, one 1st category and the 16 km finishing climb to Sant Anna Di Vina (above category).
Riders are still holding a meeting to decide whether they will pull out of the race completely.
News story - Giro raids bring rider backlash
Rider representatives from each team are now holding a meeting to determine whether to continue the Giro, following the cancellation of the 18th stage today.
"We would not have had the time to run the stage," said race director Carmine Castellano. "In addition, it would have posed big problems to come back to the hotels. We preferred to cancel the stage."
Hein Verbruggen said of the riders: "They are very disturbed and I understand them. I told them that 'I prefer the race is continued, but I understand your indignation'. I have always said, already with the Tour de France in 1998, that I was favourable to working with justice."
He added that the new EPO tests, which have had 6 positive results this year "Have solved the major part of the EPO problem."
It has been confirmed that illegal substances have been found during police raids on team hotels in the Giro d'Italia last night. Italian newsagency ANSA reported police sources as saying substances including stimulants, corticosteroids, testosterone, caffeine, adrenal and anabolic steroids had been seized. Unlabelled medicine bottles, syringes and vials of blood were also removed, along with a plasma/protein-based solution. All the substances have been taken to laboratories in Rome and Florence for analysis.
Witnesses last night said some things were thrown from the windows of hotel rooms soon after the raid began, and one rider (Guiseppe di Grande) actually jumped out of one.
Will the Giro continue at all? Michel Wuyts (Belgian TV1): 'Tonight there will be a meeting with Carmine Castellano, Pantani, Cipollini on behalf of the riders and some team managers (inc. Saiz) about the next few days. It's real chaos here. Some teams like Lotto weren't invited to the riders meeting this morning."
About the raids: 'It was prepared perfectly. 200 policemen for 20 teams. A bigger raid than in the Tour de France 1998. Then, only two teams were involved and the 17th stage - with some interruptions - was ridden. The results didn't count in 1998. But today there isn't even a stage. And it's still questionable if the Giro 2001 will reach Milan. In this Giro we've had already 3 non-negative EPO-riders, but there are rumours that in the meantime another 7 Giro-riders (including 'a big fish') were 'maybe-positive' too."
With the status of the remaining stages of the 84th Giro d'Italia in limbo for the time being, other team managers have vented their frustration at the latest turn of events. iBanesto.com's directeur sportif, Jose Miguel Echavarri, said that he was "totally frustrated" about the cancellation of the 18th stage. He was one of the Spanish directors who pulled out of the 1998 Tour de France after police raids on two teams there.
He said that teams this morning had voted to ride the reduced length 18th stage, before it was cancelled by the organisers. "For me in a sporting sense, the Giro is finished."
He commented that the drug raids were simply a "spectacle".
The situation is far from clear cut. One the one hand, there are reports that banned substances have been seized (stimulants, corticosteroids, testosterone, caffeine, adrenal and anabolic steroids). Others, including UCI president Hein Verbruggen, have stated that nothing can be confirmed until the analyses have been performed.
The latest TV reports say that none of the cyclists are angry at the police, who were just doing their jobs. However, they were angry at those who had ordered the searches. The riders and Verbruggen are in favour of continuing the race tomorrow, and today's protest was just a "token of our disapproval as to the way we have been treated."
Telekom director Rudy Pevenage said that the riders are tested more than the public ever realises (and cyclingnews has confirmed this from rider sources). During the Bayern Rundfarht recently for example, riders from the Telekom team were tested by the UCI after the last stage. Then when they got back to their hotels, the German Federation showed up to conduct more tests.
"They took everything. There was no privacy for the cyclists - all of their personal effects were searched," said Pevenage.
The 7 other rumoured cases are still certainly rumour at the moment.
Verbruggen believes that it is a political stunt by the goverment, and nothing to do with cleaning up doping in sport.
It now appears likely that the riders will in fact start tomorrow's 19th stage. The decision was announced at the end of the meeting that the riders held in a San Remo hotel.
Several sporting directors have already phoned ahead to ensure that their hotels will be ready. One director said that "There are only two riders who want the war".
More comments from Verbruggen/Pevenage from Belgian TV
Pevenage: "I think we'll start tomorrow. Only a few team managers want to boycott the Giro now? Who? Some Italians. We will join the majority."
About the raid: "We all had to go to our rooms and the police checked every room. Our riders were ready around midnight, while the rest of our team was busy till 2 am. The detectives said to us: don't worry about your sleep. there isn't a stage tomorrow...so I don't know what the idea was behind this raid. I'll hear the result of the meeting later tonight. I think it will be a typical Italian meeting with 100 men."
Hein Verbruggen: "I think it can be done in another way. The police have to do their job, but the officials/clerks... I don't understand why they keep the riders out of their beds just before such a hard stage. I have said to the riders the signal today was very strong, but advised them to start tomorrow."
"High ranking politicians like the minister and the chairman of the International Olympic Committee called me already to help with solving the problem in the Giro. But that is after it happened. I can deny - with 100 percent confidence - that there are another 7 riders positive. Until now - after all the tests - we have 6 cases. No more. Even the incomplete tests haven't given any sign we have to be worried. I hope the giro will start again tomorrow."
*Note: this stage has officially 'finished'. More news, reports and comments can be found in the pages below.
edition news for June 7 - Verbuggen: We must understand the
riders, Banned drugs seized by police, NAS: No persecution, Giro raids
bring rider backlash, Verbrugghe back home