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News for June 3, 2001
84th Giro d'Italia news
Dario Frigo showed his grit today during the second mountain stage from Cavalese to Arco. The former race leader stood up to Gilberto Simoni's attacks, and still trails the Lampre rider by 48 seconds heading into tomorrow's time trial. His teammate Wladimir Belli was not so lucky, and was thrown out of the race after punching Simoni's nephew on the last climb.
Stage 14 comments
Carlos Contreras (Selle Italia, 1st stage)
"I am thinking of Cacaito (Rodriguez) who is from the same city as me. He won a stage of the Tour de France, but he never reached that level in the Giro."
"I left the Kelme team where they didn't really trust me. I left them before the Giro. My director sportif Gianni Savio convinced me of my chances in a grand tour like the Giro. He still thinks I can make the final podium. I am beginning to believe him, because I am not bad against the clock. I even won a time trial in the Vuelta a Colombia."
"I feel good in this team, we get along well and Buenahora helped me in the finale of the stage. I dedicate this win to my wife and two children."
Gilberto Simoni (Lampre, 1st GC)
"I am a little disappointed. I thought of losing Frigo and taking time from him. Obviously, everyone bases his race on me from now on. Despite everything, Gotti and Olano wasted time."
"The time trial? I don't want to lose anything on Frigo. In a long stage race, endurance is important."
"The supporters...It is true that they are dangerous when they run close to the riders. From there to throwing a punch. That is a step..."
Marco Pantani (Mercatone Uno, 17th GC)
"I wanted to see how I had recovered. That was the reason I attacked on the last climb. I felt a bit better than on the stage to Pordoi. I hope to improve in the last week."
Belli "most combative" and out of the race
Was it frustration at losing the leaders near the top of the Santa Barbara climb, or was the madness of the tifosi getting to him? Whatever it was, Fassa Bortolo's Wladimir Belli, 3rd on GC before the stage, got himself thrown out of the Giro d'Italia today after he punched a spectator on the final climb.
Belli's action was curious, given that the fan was not standing in the way, although he did reportedly verbally insult the Fassa Bortolo rider. In contrast was Simoni's orange-clad "Simoni Hooligan" fan club, who ran up the road, inches from their hero for long periods of time. Even the normally cool Simoni told one of them to back off.
The jury deliberated for a long time with Fassa Bortolo DS Giancarlo Ferretti, and race director Carmine Castellano before deciding to disqualify Belli. He was excluded according to rule 33.1, and the jury decision was unanimous.
The exchange between Belli and the fan - later found to be a nephew of Simoni's - was potentially disastrous for the Fassa Bortolo squad. Belli and Frigo were well positioned on GC to attack Simoni (in a figurative sense!), and Belli was certainly looking stronger today than he did yesterday. Now it will be up to Frigo to try and regain the Maglia Rosa in tomorrow's 55 kilometre time trial.
Nephew pardons Belli
The 18 year old at the receiving end of Wladimir Belli's punch has pardoned his attacker, saying that "the disqualification is unjust, I understand his reaction. You must understand the riders; at certain moments [like climbing an 18% hill] they are stressed and they can react rashly."
Jury stands firm
The race jury president has stood by his actions to exclude Wladimir Belli from the Giro after the punching incident. "We know that the rider was provoked, but we are forced to apply the regulations. That involves a fine and the immediate exclusion from the race. The gesture is inexcusable."
"I am still thinking I am placed third in the Giro, but tomorrow I can't start. They told be that my gesture was inexcusable. I was in error, certainly. But in the last three kilometres of that climb, the tifosi were correct and the others weren't. They made me annoyed. I was punished for an instinctive gesture."
Garzelli, Beltran, Rebellin DNS
The Mapei-Quick Step plan to win the Giro ended yesterday after Stefano Garzelli failed to finish anywhere near the front group on the hardest mountain stage. Garzelli was dropped at the beginning of the Passo Fedaia, eventually losing 13'42 to Simoni by the finish. The Mapei team issued a statement saying that Garzelli (last year's winner) was suffering from bronchitis for the past few days. According to team doctor Massimo Besnati, "he doesn't believe this bronchitis will get better over the next few days."
The team management met with Garzelli and the doctor to determine a course of action, and it was decided to withdraw Garzelli from the race. "I am very sad and upset by this 'forced on me' decision ," said Garzelli "especially as before this illness started I felt I was in perfect physical condition. Yesterday's stage was almost a torture for me, not only because I was tormented by this cough but mainly because my breathing capacity was reduced so much that I just couldn't go for my objective. I am also very sorry for the team - they have supported me fantastically in these past days of the Giro."
Manuel "Triki" Beltran did not take part in today's race either: a motorcycle hit the Spanish rider during the 6th stage and he suffered bad bruising. He has continued racing despite having problems with his right knee. However, it wasn't getting better and he decided to abandon.
Liquigas leader Davide Rebellin was another non-starter.
Stage 15: Sirmione to Salo ITT, 55 km
Tomorrow will be the final stage before the Giro's only rest day on Monday, June 4. At 55 kilometres , the time trial from Sirmione to Salo could be enough to unseat Gilberto Simoni from the lead. Even riders such as Abraham Olano (ONCE) or possibly Sergey Gontchar (Liquigas) could take enough time out of Simoni to wear pink tomorrow night. Or perhaps Dario Frigo can take back the 48 seconds that he lost yesterday. Even Jan Ullrich may want to test himself tomorrow, as he has shown no indication in the mountains so far.
The parcours is described as technical and undulating, and Simoni will be motivated to lose as little time as possible before the mountains return again. Cyclingnews will be providing live updates again from 1500 CEST.
Pieri and Commesso in America for First Union
With the Giro d'Italia entering its concluding stages this week, the rest of the cycling world is heading to Pennsylvania in the USA for the important First Union series which builds up to the USPRO national championships on June 10.
The Saeco Macchine per Caffé team will ride the First Union Invitational Classic on June 5, the First Union Classic on Thursday June 7, before the First Union USPro Championships. Directeur sportif Bruno Vicino has taken a young team with Dario Pieri, Salvatore Commesso, Alessio Galletti, Nicola Gavazzi, Brad Davidson and Justin Spinelli.
Domo-Farm Frites with seven
Domo-Farm Frites leader Hendrik Redant has flown to America with six riders for the First Union Series: Mario De Clercq, Leif Hoste, Tomas Konecny, David Orvalho and Piotr Wadecki will meet up with US champion Fred Rodriguez for the three races.
Dauphine-Libere: Frischkorn to replace Chotard in Mercury
After Laurent Chotard's removal from the Mercury-Viatel cycling team, one of the youngest professional cyclists in squad, William Frischkorn (19) will get a start in the Dauphine Libere (June 10-17).
Two deaths in the Tour of Navarra
Two people have died in a motorcycle accident in the Tour of Navarra, during today's 5th stage from Estella to Santesteban. On the descent of the Alto de Huitzi, a motorbike driven by two race volunteers aged 59 and 57, went off the road and the two were killed. One of them, José Maria Zabalza Tarazona, was even a sponsor of the race's "Best Climber" category, and was Navarra's Entrepreneur of the Year,
Six-days of Melbourne
Melbourne's Vodafone Arena will be the scene of a six day race next year in June, with several top six day cyclists already confirmed for the event. 14 two man teams will ride, with Australian Scott McGrory, Swiss Bruno Risi and Italian Silvio Martinello. The event is scheduled for June 20-25, and the organisers Velosport are hoping for a prize purse of AU$300,000 (US$150,000).
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