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Photo ©: Swift

Latest News for May 21, 2003

Edited by Jeff Jones

86th Giro d'Italia news

Saeco realistic

Gilberto Simoni
Photo: © Sirotti
Click for larger image

Although they took the Maglia Rosa in stage 10 yesterday, Gilberto Simoni's Saeco team is pretty realistic about what's happening. Team director Giuseppe Martinelli commented to La Gazzetta dello Sport that, "We haven't or lost the Giro yesterday. But Simoni already knew he was strong on Terminillo and he wanted to give it a try yesterday. When Simoni realised Casagrande wasn't going to move and Garzelli was without his teammates and the other riders weren't doing anything, he said 'I'm going to make an attack and see what happens.'"

Simoni made his move on the Monte Casale with 40 km to go, as his teammate Leonardo Bertagnolli had done the same to the breakaway, a little bit further up the road. The tactic was something that the team had planned in the morning meeting before the race, i.e. to try and get Bertagnolli in the first break so someone could get across to him later.

Garzelli not disappointed

Garzelli chases
Photo: © Sirotti
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Stefano Garzelli was not too disappointed with losing the Maglia Rosa to Gilberto Simoni yesterday. "Two seconds is nothing," he told La Gazzetta. "Simoni is going really strongly but I hope I'm going to be able to improve a little, and Simoni has done a lot more races than I have. Yesterday I didn't find a lot of collaboration in the chase. Casagrande helped me more than anyone else."

Garzelli is not going to give up the Giro without a fight. "I'll be attacking again. When the road goes up, that's the time to make a move. It will be quite a good challenge against Simoni."

Pantani watch

Marco Pantani is going day by day in the Giro d'Italia, currently lying in 17th place at 4'53 down. In yesterday's 10th stage, he felt good. "It was a nervous race yesterday," he said. "I crashed on the descent of the Trebbiano with Sabaliauskas and I ended up on the ground. I got back in but it was really hard. In the race I could feel a little bit of pain in my right leg because of the crash in Montecatini."

After 10 days of racing, Pantani still feels reasonably fresh. "I think I haven't used a lot of my forces and I think I can improve. I've always had a lot of endurance and I hope that'll come out as the race continues."

Armstrong: Cipo should be in

The defending champion of the Tour de France has sided with popular opinion in stating that Mario Cipollini should ride the Tour de France. Armstrong was quoted in La Gazzetta as saying, "The Tour is the biggest race. It's a world class race and you can't keep the best people out. I don't understand this decision. I've asked for an answer but I haven't gotten a response."

"There's three good reasons why this decision as absolutely wrong: First, Cipollini is the World Champion and they didn't think only of the race. Second, Cipollini is the best sprinter in the world, so even on a technical level it's a mistake not to invite him. Third, Cipollini is a really big personality and he's very popular in cycling. He knows how to take his responsibilities, and the Tour should welcome him back."

"The Tour is a world class event, it's not a national race," continued Armstrong. "Also we're hoping to see Ullrich there. The more champions there are, the better, and the more difficult the race is, the more passionate the fans are."

Verbruggen: Leblanc followed the rules

UCI president Hein Verbruggen also voiced his disappointment at the non-selection of Cipollini, but underlined that race director Jean-Marie Leblanc had followed the rules, thus there would probably be no intervention from the UCI in the matter.

"It's really too bad not to see the UCI world champion at the Tour," said Verbruggen to La Gazzetta. "It's evident though that Jean-Marie Leblanc followed all the rules. And it's not the first time that the Italians have complained. Last year it was Simoni, and before that Pantani."

Verbruggen said that the team selection issue is gradually improving: "Until 15 years ago, the power of the organisers was absolute. Now their discretion is limited to eight wild cards. The Tour's inviting French teams like the Giro does for the Italians and Vuelta for the Spanish. But I admit that while the Giro and the Vuelta have a dimension that is more national, the Tour de France is absolutely considered an international race, so they should have more of a world oriented philosophy."

"We have to find a structural solution," he concluded, alluding once again to his "super league" of teams. "It could happen with a creation of a category of top competition teams that know already in winter what races they will participate in. It's not good for the sponsor not to have guarantees of the races they are going to participate in."

Riis surprised over Phonak's Tour miss

By Ole Ryborg

While everybody is busy commenting the non-participation of Mario Cipollini and his Domina Vacanze team in this year's Tour de France, former Tour winner Bjarne Riis has been critical about another non-selection. In the Danish media, the CSC team director voiced his surprise and disappointment that the Société du Tour de France did not give Swiss team Phonak a wild card.

"I am mostly surprised that they (the Société de Tour de France) did not appoint Team Phonak. Phonak is one of the sponsors that nowadays do most for the sport and therefore they should also have been helped by the Tour de France. The Société has a responsibility for the whole world of cycling which they do not live up to in this way," Bjarne Riis told the Danish newspaper Ekstra Bladet.

Riis also said that he has not yet signed a contract with the Danish Coast rider Bekim Christensen, who wants to start riding for Team CSC.

"We do not dare to make a contract with Bekim right now. He has one contract (with Coast), and that one he needs to get rid of before he can sign a new one," said Riis. "We need to think about Bekim so that he does not get into trouble."

Have your say on the Tour de France wildcards in our online survey.

Armstrong rides key Tour stages

Lance Armstrong will head to France next week to reconnoitre some of the stages in this year's Centenary Tour. "Before the end of the month, he will have examined all the important Tour mountain stages with a magnifying glass, just like the roads that the individual time trials will be ridden on," US Postal's team director Dirk Demol was quoted in Gazet van Antwerpen as saying. "After that, there is a possibility for a few more reconnaissances. We never want to leave anything to chance."

Top men at Rabobank stay

Rabobank team managers Jan Raas and Peter Hubert have lengthened the contracts of their team directors Theo de Rooij, Adri van Houwelingen, Frans Maassen and Nico Verhoeven and doctor Geert Leinders until January 1, 2006. The Dutch team includes a Division I and an U23 Division III squad, but Rabobank also sponsors a junior team and the Dutch national women's team.

Belgian start for Peace Race?

There is a chance that the 57th edition of the Peace Race next year will begin in Brussels, according to Belgian VRT teletekst. The event wants to celebrate the expansion of the European Union to ten countries. A number of practical difficulties need to be worked out before the venture will go ahead. The riders would have to transfer from Belgium to Germany via plane after the first stage, before following its more traditional route through Germany, Poland and the Czech Republic.

Dr Michele Ferrari interview: Part II

In part two of's exclusive interview with Dr. Michele Ferrari, he talks with us about the ongoing court case in Italy and his relationship with Lance Armstrong. Also see: Part I.

(All rights reserved/Copyright Knapp Communications Pty Limited 2003)