Is Angelo Zomegnan having a laugh leaving Team High Road out of the Giro d?Italia?
While there is still a chink of light for the squad because, in theory, a 22nd team could be invited at a later date, it is a huge blow for the team and its ethical stance.
The Giro?s organisers drew up a set of criteria each team should meet in order to gain selection.
Ethics, quality, internationality and long-term relations with RCS, the race organisers.
Team High Road ticks all the boxes.
They have an independent testing procedure and a clear ethical stance together with a very strong roster of riders from around the road. Admittedly Bob Stapleton has only been in charge a year but last year Marco Pinotti ? riding for T-Mobile ? was a superb ambassador for the team and a credit to the race. He wore the maglia rosa with pride and gave thoughtful, intelligent interviews speaking up for the clean riders.
Perhaps RCS thought it would be easy to leave out Team High Road because there is not a sponsor to upset.
Whatever the reason, it?s a shocking decision, particularly when you look at the identity of some of the other teams that have been successful.
Free to choose whoever they wished, a great responsibility was bestowed on Zomegnan and his colleagues. They have failed in that responsibility.
If they have any sense, they?ll be on the phone to Bob Stapleton to offer a 22nd place.
Yes, Patrik Sinkewitz and Lorenzo Bernucci failed dope tests last year. T-Mobile had almost as many positives as Astana ? whose exclusion from the Giro is more understandable.
But Stapleton has worked extremely hard to change the ethos of the team in a very short space of time and now he’s been dealt this serious blow, what sort of message does it send out?
|DESERVED AN INVITE|
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There was little doubt about the following teams, mostly because they?re in the ProTour and would have expected a place.
|JUSTIFIABLE WILD CARDS|
Barloworld Rode a great Tour last year, deserve a Giro spot
Diquigiovanni-Androni Gianni Savio is a colourful directeur sportif and they?ve signed Gilberto Simoni
Slipstream Similar ethical stance to Team High Road proved attractive to RCS
CSF Group-Navigare This is the old Panaria squad that has impressed in recent editions of the Giro and has a squad packed with Italian triers
|CAN COUNT THEMSELVES LUCKY|
Cofidis Disgraced the Tour de France ? with an Italian rider ? last year
Milram Place yet to be confirmed, apparently pending on where the team is registered. Could also be an exercise in caution considering Alessandro Petacchi?s hearing with the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS)
Française des Jeux Crédit Agricole have been left out. Does FDJ really have that much more to offer? Sandy Casar’s sixth place two years ago probably helped ? but will he even ride?
|HOME TOWN DECISION|
Tinkoff Credit Systems Dubious decision, benefiting from Italian registration but there are question marks over the team?s recruitment policy in the past. Sure to be aggressive in the race though
|A COMPLETE JOKE|
LPR Brakes The team that snaps up Danilo Di Luca. Yes, he?s the defending champion but is his presence really compatible with the message the Giro d?Italia wants to send out about ethics?
NGC Medical-OTC Who? Okay, without looking, name one of their riders. Just one. If you can do it, fair play to you. This is the team Jamie Burrow rode for him 2006 before retiring from racing to ride Gran Fondo events. They ride Fondriest bikes, which probably gives a clue as to why they?re in. We?re particularly looking forward to seeing Diego Nosotti and Marco Corsini in action
Astana Probably not a surprise considering the recent signals. Last year the name Astana was synonymous with controversy
Bouygues Telecom Hardly did anything last year. The French squads make the Tour their priority, so they can?t complain at being left out of the Giro
Crédit Agricole If they can?t guarantee Thor Hushovd?s participation they can?t ride the Giro, it seems. Even having token Italian, Pietro Caucchioli, was not enough
Team High Road A poor decision whichever way you look at it
Acqua & Sapone Another small Italian team that could have counted on getting a place in their home tour ? particularly with last year?s stage winner Stefano Garzelli in the line up.