Giro d’Italia preparations continue without the race’s chief, Michele Acquarone. Organiser RCS Sport sent a delegation to Dublin on Thursday to meet Irish prime minister, Enda Kenny and to plan next year’s opening stages.
The Giro d’Italia starts in Belfast on May 9 and travels to Dublin in its first three days before returning home. Acquarone secured the 2014 start but was unable to make last week’s trip due to an ongoing investigation into missing funds, which newspaper Milano Finanzia reported at £10.8m (€13m).
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“No one has let me know anything,” Acquarone told Cycling Weekly. “Since the [suspension] letter on October 1, I’ve heard nothing. I have no idea what’s going on in the office. I just have to wait.”
RCS Sport is cycling’s biggest organiser behind the Amaury Sport Organisation (ASO), which runs the Tour de France. It organises Milano-San Remo, the Tour of Lombardy and other sporting events such as Rome’s marathon. Its biggest and longest running event remains the Giro d’Italia.
Publishing house, RCS Mediagroup discovered something wrong and in September began an investigation into its sporting subsidiary. Administrative director, Laura Bertinotti quit, CEO Giacomo Catano switched to another department and media relations director, Matteo Pastore went home on suspension. Since external investigators took over, Raimondo Zanaboni replaced Chairman Flavio Biondi.
The investigation continues into its second month. When contacted by Cycling Weekly, RCS Sport Press Officer Stefano Diciatteo explained that there was nothing new to report. The race’s director continues to miss key 2014 appointments. Acquarone watched the 2014 Giro presentation last month on television and read about the business trip in Ireland.
Kenny received the race’s signature pink jersey from Italian Prime Ministar Enrico Letta. Letta travelled with La Gazzetta dello Sport director, Andrea Monti, Giro technical director, Mauro Vegni, ex-pro Francesco Moser, and RCS Mediagroup’s media relations director, Carlo Rossanigo.
“I’m sorry above all for the people involved but at least we have a good team and I’m not doing all the work here,” Vegni told Cycling Weekly in October.
“We are going to keep working ahead and hope for a clearer picture soon. Until something is shown, I’d like to consider [Acquarone] innocent.”
Acquarone told Cycling Weekly that he did not steal money. “I hope everything is cleared up as soon as possible but I remain here, sitting at home in Milan,” he explained. “I’ve not been involved in this, if something’s happened at all. Frankly, I don’t even know what the problem is or the details.”
RCS has yet to put the blame squarely on anyone’s shoulders or explain just how much money is missing. The weekend after the World Championships, it asked Acquarone to stay home, with pay, while investigators worked. Acquarone said that he is reading and studying while away to keep busy and to plan for RCS Sport’s growth.
“I don’t know what people think. Some, I know, think I am guilty,” Acquarone added. “I am ready to return. My dream, like always, is to help the Giro become as important as the Tour de France.”