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85th Giro d'Italia (GT)

Italy, May 11-June 2, 2002

News for May 29, 2002

Edited by Jeff Jones

The 15th stage of the Giro was supposed to be a quiet prelude to the two grand stages in the Dolomiti on Wednesday and Thursday. For the most part it was, with the rain falling throughout the stage subduing the peloton which was content to finish the stage with a bunch sprint, won by Mario Cipollini.

However and incident very early in the stage caused a big furore after the finish, when Francesco Casagrande, fourth on GC and a big favourite for the overall, was disqualified from the race for causing Colombian rider John Fredy Garcia to crash when they were both disputing a category 3 mountain sprint. More information on that can be found here, but it means that the Giro has lost its third big name in controversial circumstances.

Fassa Bortolo will continue the race now with six riders, and Wladimir Belli (12th on GC) as their team leader. It's worth recalling that Belli was ejected from the race for punching a fan last year, who happened to be a cousin of Gilberto Simoni's. Maybe there was actually more Sapone today than Acqua.

Post-stage comments

Mario Cipollini (Acqua e Sapone, 1st stage)

Cipollini was stung by criticism that his win in Conegliano was "easy" due to the absence of riders such as McEwen and Quaranta. "It can appear easy for people who do not know cycling. Schumacher at 250 km/h around a circuit, that seems so easy, the truth is that it's quite difficult. I am a little bitter at being criticised by people who allow themselves to judge because they have a microphone or a pen. If you are not happy, I can also go home."

Cipollini also commented on some of the Giro contenders, such as Tyler Hamilton and Cadel Evans, who he called "Riders of great quality but who are not big personalities."

On Casagrande: "He made an incorrect move. That did not please me and I told him."

On his decision not to participate in the Tour (if he was ever asked again): "In the Giro, you can speak with the organizers. In the Tour de France, there is an organisers' dictatorship. I accepted it but now, with my experience, I will accept it no more. I do not speak for the public, the sprints are formidable. I respect those who think differently but, no doubt because I am Italian, I prefer to race the Giro".

Jens Heppner (Telekom)

"There is very little chance that I will keep the maglia rosa in the next stage. I will maybe get over the first two climbs, but then there are two more... But, if the legs are good, I hope to finish high up in the classification in Milan. I believe that all those days in pink were well received in Germany. I've been told that a lot of people looked at the retransmission of the Giro after the F1 GP on Sunday. At first, I thought of keeping the pink jersey for two or three days. Then, everything unfolded well. I earned this jersey, I went with the breakaway to win it."

Stage 15 full results & report
Live report
Photos

Armstrong comments on the Giro

Lance Armstrong discussed Tyler Hamilton and the Giro d'Italia with Pier Bergonzi of La Gazzetta Dello Sport. Here are a few excerpts:

On Tyler's Giro chances: "Tyler's great - I'm really happy for my friend. I know how much he deserves this. I know how much he's worked to ride a good Giro. And now I know he can win it. I don't want to push it, but I can already see him on the podium in Milano. He'll take the Maglia Rosa if he can ride his race. He has to be aggressive - his win in the time trial will transform Tyler."

"I think and hope that in the Dolomiti, we'll see a Tyler that no one has ever seen. Now he knows he can win the Giro and he has to ride as a leader. He's a man who thinks a lot; he's very balanced and that's both his strength and weakness."

"To win the Giro, Tyler has to force (the other riders') hand; he has to make a move like he did on Mont Ventoux when he won the Dauphine. He's got the legs and the head to win. He shouldn't be afraid, this is his big moment."

On his friendship with Tyler: "We'll always be friends; we have a lot of mutual respect. We live in the same building in Gerona. Our wives are friends and sometimes we train together. Last year Tyler came to me when he got Riis's proposal and I thought it was a god move for him right away. I told him 'get a good salary and now you can make yourself into a (team) leader. Tyler is 30 and now he can see just how far he can go. I understood his choice (to leave USPS)."

On Tyler the rider: "Tyler is one of the most together people I know I know in the sport of cycling. His self-control is amazing. Anything can happen and he stays calm. He doesn't say a lot; he doesn't waste words."

On the Giro: "Right now, the whole thing is starting over. There are at least 10 riders who can still win. Let's see what Casagrande [note: the interview was conducted before today's stage], Frigo and Escartin can do in the mountains. And Evans? Evans is really looking strong. I don't want to miss the big stage - in the Dolomiti, anything can happen."