Monday, May 18, 2009

Stage 9, Part IV: Basso, “We apologize”

CUNEO, 18 May 2009 – The day after is a day of reflection, especially if you have time to take a breath following nine days of racing at an average of 40 kph. The"Milan Show 100", blown apart by the protests of the racers, left a significant mark.

CONSCIENCE — Lance Armstrong, pulled into the situation by some of his team-mates, plays a starring role here. From Astana’s retreat near Cuneo, where early this morning UCI inspectors showed up to carry out anti-doping tests, no comment has been made on these events. But the Italian racers didn’t hold back, and the most logical position was taken by Ivan Basso. "I think that after what happened yesterday, we’ve all listened to our conscience. From tomorrow the group will be ready to start again and provide a good show. What happened? Sometimes, you just get nervous and decisions made during the race do not always end up being the right ones. We also have to admit that when we reported danger, the organisation did meet us halfway". About Lance, "Nobody is specifically to blame for what happened. We just need to apologize, that’s all.”

VOICES OF THE CHOIR — Franco Pellizotti agrees, "I’m especially sorry that I heard some insults from the spectators, but it’s better not to talk about it anymore. We race on common roads, not on a track. There are risks, and we can’t expect to have nets at the end of every descent." As often happens, there was disagreement. Gilberto Simoni emphasised the dangers of a city route. "You can’t just take everything lying down. 14 of us broke our tyres in the first few laps. This is the Giro d’Italia, not the Roubaix, where you know what to expect and you make sure you have the right equipment, for example, by mounting resistant tubular tyres. We all agreed, we were this close to completely stopping." Although the average speed of the last few laps demonstrated the contrary, with Lampre and High Road leading the pack, even the technicians of Diquigiovanni-Androni spoke up. "The Milan stage was a big mistake,” pointed out Gianni Savio. “When Bertolini informed us that the sprinters didn’t want to break away we ordered the team to increase their pace."

TESTS FOR 52 — In this climate of apparent calm (penalties from the UCI should not be ruled out) the teams are preparing for one of the key stages of the Giro, Cuneo-Pinerolo. Almost all racers had a short ride, no more than two hours, on this rest day. Six teams and 52 racers got a wake up call this morning from the UCI inspectors, who tested Basso’s Liquigas-Doimo team, Armstrong and Leipheimer’s Astana, Simoni’s Diquigiovanni-Androni, and then Garmin, ISD and Barloworld.

Photo: Basso and Pellizotti

After the Giro we'll get back to "regular programming": everything from A to Z about Italian cycling. Stories, including cycling trip stories, for the Italian Cycling Journal welcome; contact

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