February 7, 2008
What a can of worms the 2008 Giro has opened, by excluding 4 ProTour teams. You’d think that there was something intrinsically “wrong” with these teams, to exclude them in this overtly political way. They are ProTour teams after all, and effectively part of the premier league of cycling. So exclusion becomes a sporting issue, and it matters. The obvious question arises – is it for “drug issues”, a taint that seemingly can’t be overcome? Or something else?
One such “something else” is the tendency of some teams to use the Giro as training for Le Tour. Surely that includes quiet a few other teams, not just this lot.
Read the CN story here: Angelo Zomegnan, the head of Giro organizer RCS Sport, said that the decision was not simple. “There were many requests and too many problems weighing on the past histories major teams related to doping,” he told Gazzetta dello Sport. “This has not been an easy decision, and we have had to leave out large teams like Astana and the illustrious Italians Stefano Garzelli [Acqua & Sapone], Marco Pinotti [Team High Road] and Pietro Caucchioli [Crédit Agricole].”
And the UCI reaction is here: UCI President Pat McQuaid reacted Wednesday to the omission of four ProTour teams from the Giro d’Italia start list by race organizer RCS. He said it was like “taking a step back 20 years.”
The excluded teams are Astana, High Road (formerly T-Mobile), Credit Agricole and Bouygues Telecom (all ProTour) plus the Professional Continental team Acqua & Sapone of former Giro champion Stefano Garzelli. That’s a big chunk of talented riders to remove from contention.