The Week That Was...
Ian comments on the happenings in the world of cycling.
With two weeks gone now in the Giro d?Italia, 24yr old Ukrainian Yaroslav Popovych (Landbouwkrediet-Colnago) leads the overall standings after his second place in the stage 13 time trial. The final week features four climbing stages so we can almost certainly be assured that these standings will change. Race favorite is still Gilberto Simoni (Saeco) although rumors have continued of a split in the team camp following the early race success of his compatriot, Damiano Cunego. Both riders have publicly gone out of their way in the past week to quash these rumors. Cunego noted that he?d ?had a great start to the Giro by winning two stages and wearing the leaders pink jersey, but as I?ve always said, Simoni is the leader of the Saeco team and I?m here to help him win his third Giro.? For his part, Simoni acknowledged that, ?Damiano is giving me a big hand by sharing the responsibility of the team leadership.? He went on to add that, ?he (Cunego) deserves a lot of attention. Obviously I?m here to win my third Giro and there are no reasons to suggest that it won?t go as planned. If Cunego drops me on the climbs, I won?t get upset but that doesn?t mean there?s rivalry between us.? A few days later on the Giro?s rest day, Simoni took the time to underline his ambitions for this summer. ?I want to win the Giro and also be a protagonist at the Tour de France. To win my third Giro is very important but also to race well in <?xml:namespace prefix = st1 ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags" /?>
Still grabbing attention in the Giro is Fassa Bortolo sprinter, Alessandro Petacchi. His amazing winning streak has continued, equaling the record of seven stage wins in a race along with Roger De Vlaeminck (1975), Freddy Maertens (1977) and Giuseppe Saronni (1980). ?The goal is now definitely to win a great race,? Petacchi said in the midst of the celebrations.
With a stage of the Giro finishing in the hometown of the late Italian rider Marco Pantani, emotions were high for many involved with the race and the rider himself. This was none more evident that when RAI-TV?s presenter, Alessandro Di Stefano, conducted an interview with Torina Pantani, Marco?s mother. Throughout the interview, Torina verged on the point of becoming hysterical as she accused the Giro of killing her son. "Above all, I want to understand why my son was sent home, because I'm not convinced that he was excluded from the Giro for doping (in 1999 at Madonna di Campiglio). Since then, well, I something inside that I can't express...now, besides the bitterness and pain I have, I still can't understand this! I wish someone would help me understand it!? She went on to add that, "since then, when Marco came back home it became...I