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Pearl Izumi
Limar helmets

85th Giro d'Italia (GT)

Italy, May 11-June 2, 2002

News for May 19, 2002

Edited by Jeff Jones

Stage 6 wrap up

The sixth stage of the Giro from Cuneo to Varazze was a tumultuous one that saw the race leadership change hands from Stefano Garzelli to Jens Heppner (Telekom) after a 12 man break got away to win by over 5 minutes. The stage was won by Giovanni Lombardi (Acqua e Sapone), who seems to be a specialist in winning sprints in the wet.

On top of all this there was the news this morning that Stefano Garzelli had tested non-negative for probenecid, a diuretic on the banned list, following stage 2 to Liege which he won. Garzelli is still in the race until the results of the counter analysis are known, probably by Tuesday.

Two other riders tested non-negative for Nesp, a blood boosting substance more effective and longer lasting than EPO, but quite easy to detect. There were Panaria's Faat Zakirov and Mercatone's Roberto Sgambelluri. The former did not start while the latter is still in the race.

Stage 6 full results & report
Live report

Post stage comments

Giovanni Lombardi (Acqua e Sapone, 1st stage)

"It was hard for me to hang on in the final; the last climb (with 10km to go) was tough but (former Telekom team-mate) Heppner helped me - he's a friend and I was strongest in the sprint."

Jens Heppner (Telekom, current maglia rosa)

"I really feel great now after a hard day today. For me This (maglia rosa) is a great present and I want to keep it as long as I can."

Stefano Garzelli (Mapei, former maglia rosa)

"It was a tough stage for me - with the rain and the cold and all the stress. It was unending and exhausting. There were a lot of things going through my head today. I will look at things from day to day."

Aldo Sassi (Mapei managing director)

"We've never promoted the idea that there is some kind of plot here; we've just tried to bring up all the strange things that have occurred."

Alvaro Crespi (Mapei team manager)

"We want to see the tests after Liege. If he doesn't have probenecid in his test results then the steroid should come out. If there's nothing there, then there is something strange going on.

Alessandro Fabbretti (RAI-TV moto reporter)

Noted that on stage 2, he was surprised to see how many times the Mapei riders were stopping along the roadside to answer the call of nature. Both Garzelli and Bettini confirmed that they both stopped 5 times in the first hour.

Marco Pantani (Mercatone Uno)

"Well until the counter analysis comes out, he's innocent as far as I'm concerned."

What did you do in 1999 at Madonna Di Campiglio? "Oh I didn't stay in the race and I paid the price and I'm still paying for it."

Marino Amadori (Mercatone Uno team doctor)

"We have faith in this rider [Roberto Sgambelluri, who tested non-negative for Nesp]. He said he didn't take anything. We're going to let him ride until there's positive proof that he took something."

Race leader's bio: Jens Heppner

Date of birth: December 23, 1964
Place of birth: Gera, Germany
Height: 1.72 m
Weight: 69 kg
Teams: Panasonic (1991), Telekom (1992-2002)

Major results


1st German Road Championship
1st + 1 stage Tour du Limousin


1 stage Tour du Limousin
1 stage Regio Tour


1 stage Dauphine Libere


1 stage Tour de France


1st Tour of Germany
1st Grand Prix Cologne


1 stage Tour of Germany
1st Grand Prix Schwerin

Castellano's position

The director of the Giro d'Italia, Carmine Castellano, is no stranger to doping scandals. In 1999 Marco Pantani was expelled after his hematocrit was measured at over than 50%. Pantani was currently in the maglia rosa and had to survive just two stages before he could claim victory. In 2001, Italian fiscal police raided the Giro in San Remo, the night before the deciding stage. All team hotels were searched for illegal substances and the subsequent investigation is still being played out. The biggest name to be ejected from the race was second placed Dario Frigo, who admitted to having banned substances in his possession.

Add that to this morning's news that race leader Stefano Garzelli tested positive for the non-performance enhancing substance Probenecid, and the Panaria situation which has seen one rider test non-negative for Nesp, an EPO-like blood booster, while two others are helping the police with their inquiries. Castellano must be wondering if he'll ever be able to run a Giro without some kind of doping scandal.

"We will examine all possibilities to defend the image [of the Giro]," said Castellano in relation to the Garzelli affair.

He spoke about the code of ethics that was established after last year's raids. "This is a very broad text that it is in need of interpretation. In reference to this text, we do not currently have the possibility to intervene."

Castellano was asked whether he would exclude the Panaria team. "To exclude this team, it would have been necessary to establish a true responsibility of the team, like with Festina in the 1998 Tour de France."

"This is a very hard time," he finished. "I would have evidently preferred that one speaks only of sport. Certain people did not understand again that times have changed."

Panaria reduced to four riders

After the arrest of Nicola Chesini on Friday night, the non-negative Nesp test for Faat Zakirov, and the withdrawal of Filippo Perfetto after receiving a police summons, the Panaria-Fiordo team lost another two riders today who didn't make the time cut. Australian sprinter Graeme Brown and Ukrainian Sergiy Matveyev both finished more than 40 minutes behind in the sixth stage, and will not be allowed to start tomorrow.

Brown told Cyclingnews.com's Karen Forman after the stage that: "I arrived outside the time limit today. Was going to pull out half way but my team said I had to finish. Got a fickled tendon in my right leg, been getting worse every day and today it was fickled all day. Hurt it big time today. Not starting tomorrow. No stage win now. "

That has cut the Panaria team down to just four riders. Mexican climber Julio Alberto Perez Cuapio, Vladimir Duma, Yauheni Seniushkine and Enrico Degano. They have been urged to finish the race by the sponsor, but it will take an enormous effort of will after what has happened to the team.

A former Panaria racer, Domenico Romano, another Neapolitan now riding for Landbouwkrediet-Colnago was a non starter in stage 5. He was meant to catch the plane home from Strasbourg to Italy, but is now nowhere to be found. The Italian police are looking for him at the moment.

Former Italian policeman now under arrest for trafficking

A former member of the Neapolitan Financial Police has been arrested and placed in prison for allegedly supplying doping substances to cyclists. Armando Marzano was taken into custody on Friday night by the Neapolitan police who were acting on orders from the investigators in Brescia who are trying to uncover a doping ring in the south of Italy.

Panaria riders Filippo Perfetto, Nicola Chesini, Antonio Varriale and former Panaria rider Domenico Romano all have links with this case.