Sunday, February 3, 2008

2008 Giro d' Italia: The Shakeup

Some of the biggest Italian cycling stars are in shock that their teams have been left out from this year's Giro. The list of the 21 invited teams are:
AG2R-La Mondiale (FRA)
COFIDIS, le credit par telephone (FRA)

Notably absent from the list are Astana (with Andreas Klöden and Alberto Contador, last year's TdF winner), High Road (Marco Pinotti) and Acqua & Sapone (Stefano Garzelli and Luca Paolini). Also, Bouygues Telecom and Crédit Agricole did not make the cut. Under new 'special calendar' rules agreed upon by the International Cycling Union (UCI) and national federation representatives in Treviso, Italy, RCS Sport Events Director Angelo Zomegnan was not subject to the ProTour rule that insists that all of its teams be invited.

Italian Marco Pinotti, who wore the pink jersey four days in 2007, was surprised when the Bob Stapleton-owned team was left out of the 2008 selection. Hearing the news that Team High Road, formerly T-Mobile, had not been invited left him annoyed but after some reflection and reading an interview with RCS Sport Events Director Angelo Zomegnan by Corriere della Sera Pinotti has settled down.

Stefano Garzelli not only won the Giro eight years ago also won two stages last year so it was a shock for him to hear the news of his non-invite. "The other day I had returned from an intense training session of five and a half hours. I returned to the hotel, my brother and my agent both had called me, and they told me that my team was not invited to the Giro. I sat down, I said basta, I am stopping. It is not worth all the sacrifices. It is not right," explained Garzelli."Then I came to my senses and thought it cannot end this way; there has to be an explanation, an understanding to this decision that to me seems absurd. I have always given my maximum in my 11 Giro participations, through last year, with the two stage wins in Bergamo and Lienz, which I think were appreciated by everyone."

Meanwhile Verona's Pietro Caucchiolo, of French team Crédit Agricole, learned of his team's non-selection on the internet. He said the non-selection is aggravated by the fact that this year there is a stage beginning in Verona. He added that, "'s important to continue training, I already have 8,000 km in my legs."

Of the twenty one teams, seven are Professional Continental teams: Barloworld (Enrico Gasparotto and Mauricio Soler), Diquigiovanni-Androni (Gilberto Simoni), LPR Brakes (Danilo Di Luca and Paolo Savoldelli), Slipstream (David Zabriskie), Tinkoff Credit Systems (Mikhail Ignatiev), CSF Group Navigare (Luis Felipe Laverde) and NGC Medical-OTC.

Meanwhile, the organiser of the Tour de France, ASO, insists it has the right to select the teams by its own set of rules, and not those put forth during a meeting this last weekend in Treviso, Italy. During the meeting – taken place at the Cyclo-cross World Championships – the International Cycling Union (UCI) and representatives of the national federations came to a make-shift agreement on a 'special calendar' for 2008, while also noting that the Tour was required to invite all 18 ProTour teams. "I was not informed of the details," said Tour Director Christian Prudhomme to L'Equipe. "What I can repeat is that the essential point for us [ASO] is the benefit of total liberty in team selection. We no longer want to be a prisoner of events like in 2007 [referring to the Michael Rasmussen case in particular]."

1 comment:

  1. Call me nostalgic, but I miss the pre-Pro Tour days when there was a certain degree of speculation and anticipation leading up to the Grand Tour invitations. Sure I was disappointed when the Tour de France snubbed Cipollini, and (along with everybody else) was puzzled by the annual choices of certain French teams (remember Big Mat?). But it seems the smaller teams always animated the race if the larger teams became lackadaisical - especially at the Giro. I'm sure Marco Pinotti and his High Road team would disagree, but I for one am happy to see the likes of Simoni, DiLuca and Savoldelli back. And who will be this year's Emmanuelle Sella, Julio Perez Cuapio, or Colombia-Sella Italia team?