By Gregor Brown
The Giro d'Italia searches for a new director after the race organiser fired Michele Acquarone this week. According to a report in Tutto Bici, it is leaning towards Paolo Bellino to head its races.
The Giro d'Italia is the oldest and most prestigious stage race behind the Tour de France. With the start on May 9 in Belfast, it will celebrate its 97th edition. Besides the Giro, organiser RCS Sport runs the week-long Tirreno-Adriatico stage race in March, four one-day races including Milan-San Remo and Lombardy, and other sporting events.
Like Christian Prudhomme at the Tour or Javier Guillén at the Vuelta a España, the Giro needs a leader. Bellino would come from outside the Milan-based publishing house but would bring experience.
Bellino competed in athletics (400 metres hurdles), managed the Turin Olympic Park problems, consulted for the 2014 Sochi Games and commentated for RAI television at the Olympics and Worlds. In April, the 44-year-old from Piedmont became Italian Athletics Federation's secretary general. Italian athletics would lose but cycling could gain.
RCS Sport has been carrying on despite the €13m fraud investigation that saw its parent group, RCS Mediagroup fire Acquarone and former CEO, Giacomo Catano. The rest of the team has been adjusting after Acquarone initially left on suspension at the beginning of October. As Acquarone explained to Cycling Weekly when he took over in 2011, the patron days are over.
"I'm sorry above all for the people involved [in the investigation] but at least we have a good team and I'm not doing all the work here," Giro technical director, Mauro Vegni told Cycling Weekly in October. "It's team-work and sometimes, for different reasons, the team changes."
RCS Sport's team already presented the 2014 Giro d'Italia route and announced the wildcard long list while Acquarone was away. However, Vegni would welcome a new leader to complete the team. RCS Mediagroup should decide this month.
Acquarone started in the summer of 2011 and took over for Angelo Zomegnan. He became the Giro's fifth director and in 104 years, served the shortest term. The Giro began in 1909 with Armando Cougnet at the helm. Vincenzo Torriani, Carmine Castellano, Zomegnan and then Acquarone followed.
Acquarone explained that he is innocent and that he has to move ahead. "I worked well in RCS for 14 years, five years on the sporting side. I hope that has value," he said in a press conference yesterday. "What matters more, those five years or these two months? I know I'll have to start from zero."
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