The 2007 Giro d?Italia cycle race starts in Sardinia on Saturday, but following Ivan Basso?s partial confession to involvement with blood-doping doctor Eufemiano Fuentes, the organisers are hoping the race is not be overshadowed by further doping scandals.
Race director Angelo Zomegnan has convinced the 22 teams competing in the Giro to leave riders implicated in Operacion Puerto at home, with Tinkoff Credit Systems having a late change of heart on Wednesday and suspending Tyler Hamilton and Jorg Jaksche.
This year?s Giro follows a classic route in Sardinia and the south before the decisive mountain stages in the final week but this year?s average stage distance has been reduced to 166 kilometres and difficult mountain stages in the Dolomites have been divided by a second rest day and easier stages.
?The 2007 route isn?t for supermen. Hopefully it will be ridden cleanly and honestly,? race director Angelo Zomegnan said.
?We?ve done everything we can to make sure people enjoy the Giro. We can only hope that nothing happens to damage the race so that people remember it for the racing and not for other reasons.?
?This year sees the return of the special white jersey awarded to the best rider under 25. There are fifty riders eligible, that?s 25% of the riders in the race. opefully they will make it a open and entertaining race so that we can discover some new stars by the time the Giro ends in Milan.?
On Thursday morning. 195 of the 198 riders were cleared to race after undergoing UCI blood tests. The only riders to miss the test were Fabian Cancellara (CSC), Michael Barry (T-Mobile) and Arnaud Labbe (Bouygues Telecom) because their flight delays meant they did not arrive in Sardinia on Wednesday night. They will face an extra blood test during the Giro.