The Week That Was...
Despite having ridden his final farewell race, the prologue of the Giro d?Italia, uncertainty still surrounds the future of Mario Cipollini. Ivano Fanini, the patron of the small Amore e Vita team, insists that Cipollini must honour a contract that he signed in 1998 to finish his career with the team. After leaving a meeting with Fanini, Cipollini?s lawyer, Massimo Martini spoke to tuttobiciweb.com and said, ?Within two or three days, Ivano Fanini will know if Mario Cipollini will race with his team in 2006. The meeting was interlocutory, but I believe I can confirm with certainty that there is no doubt about the desire of Mario to retire."
Fanini commented that, "I'm calm. Because the contract signed by Mario in 1998 guaranteed the rider being in my squad, otherwise he would risk damages of 600,000 euros. I think that Martini understood this and all the requirements are there to satisfy Cipollini. Among other things, to confirm the validity of the contract in '98, Mario already paid me a sum of 60 million old lira."
After his recent crash while training in Austin, Texas, Viatcheslav Ekimov will certainly not be lining up at the start of the Tour de France this year. It is expected that Belgian Time Trial Specialist Leif Hoste, according to Telekest, could now take his place. Hoste now joins the short list of 11 Discovery Channel riders from which the final nine will be selected. The twelve are Lance Armstrong, Benjamin Noval, Jos? Azevedo, Chechu Rubiera, Triki Beltran, Paolo Savoldelli, Yaroslav Popovych, George Hincapie, Pavel Padrnos, and Beno?t Joachim.
Just days before the start of the Giro, The Liberty Seguros - W?rth team were rocked by the forced withdrawal of Nuno Ribeiro. The 27-year-old Portuguese rider returned a blood haematocrit level of 52% in controls performed by UCI medical inspectors. An official statement was released: "Within the agreements accepted by all the ProTour teams, [Liberty] puts the rider at the disposition of the highest cycling authority so that they can do all the necessary controls, including antidoping. Last Tuesday, the majority of riders that were to ride the Giro met in Madrid, where a final control was carried out, including an analysis with a centrifuge. Ribeiro returned values of between 47 and 48 in three tests, something he explained by saying that he had been training at altitude, information that the management of the team knew. In such circumstances, the blood values of the rider were considered to be normal by the doctors and no major importance was attached to them.
"Yesterday, new controls were done in Reggio Calabria and he gave normal values (48.5 per cent). After the days of travelling and very little training volume, these were considered to be logical values to start the Giro. After doing the UCI control 7:45 a.m., the team doctors knew that Nuno Ribeiro had given a haematocrit two points over the established limit. The team, in spite of the apparent discrepancy of the analyses, does not question the result offered by the experts of the UCI, who deserve the maximum credibility.?
"For this reason the team puts Nuno Ribeiro at the disposal of the UCI from this moment on, and he will travel to Lausanne in order to do the tests that are considered necessary, as well as the pertinent antidoping controls, to establish the origin of this anomalous result."
"Besides the ethical code signed by the teams of the ProTour, all the riders of the Liberty Seguros-W?rth team have in their contract a clause by which they will be immediately dismissed after a 'positive'. In this case it is a question of a 'health control', for which the team hopes that the experts of the UCI, besides the declaration of 'inaptitude' for fifteen days, clarify the origin of this result and will take the disciplinary measurements that are appropriate, included among which can be the immediate cessation of the rider's contract. This evening, the UCI will submit him to the first antidoping control."
Within days, following a meeting between team management, sponsors and the rider, Ribeiro has had his contract with the Spanish team cancelled with immediate effect. There was no objection from the rider.
According to Sportwereld.be, prize money at this years Giro d?Italia has dropped by almost 15%, a staggering ?200,000. This has angered The Professional Riders Association. Races organisers RCS have tried to compensate by reducing the cost of start money for the teams. The reduction in prize money is as a result of RAI, the race broadcaster, not earning enough from broadcast sales.
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