The Giro d’Italia’s selection of Poland’s CCC Sprandi for its 2015 edition raised eyebrows, but the team in orange could leave former dopers Stefan Schumacher and Davide Rebellin at home to avoid problems.
CCC received one of the five invitations from race organiser RCS Sport on Monday. The team will race with Italian second division teams Androni Giocattoli, Bardiani-CSF, Nippo-Vini Fantini and Southeast and the 17 WorldTour teams.
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“I’d never say that they can’t come or that I don’t want them,” RCS Sport cycling director, Mauro Vegni told Cycling Weekly.
“Not that they are any worse than the others, but I’d like to have a Giro start without riders who stir controversy. Clearly, however, the team is going to make the choice. If they do bring them, then there’s controversy, and I’d like the Giro under clear skies.”
The team stands out thanks to its orange kits, something missing at the top end of cycling since Rabobank and Euskaltel ended their respective sponsorships. Its biggest results last year were Rebellin’s win in the Giro dell’Emilia and Maciej Paterski’s stage in the Tour of Norway.
It is not the results or the colours that caught followers’ eyes when the Giro named its teams, but cyclists Rebellin and Schumacher. Both the Italian and German won Giro stages and wore its pink leader’s jersey in their careers, and both used EPO.
Rebellin was caught after winning the silver medal at the 2008 Beijing Olympics and Schumacher after winning two time trial stages in the 2008 Tour de France. Both served doping bans. Schumacher admitted his mistakes, but Rebellin denied any wrong-doing.
Rebellin, now 43, has led the CCC team since joining in 2013. Schumacher joined only this year after racing with another high-profile former doper, Michael Rasmussen, at team Christina Watches.
“I’ll give you example,” Vegni continued. “It’s like with Danilo Di Luca in 2013. He had a racing licence, the federation gave him a licence to race and so who am I to say he cannot? I can’t say I don’t want him. It’s the same thing for Schumacher and Rebellin.”
CCC could opt to leave the two off its team. Its press chief told Cycling Weekly, “It’s too early to decide who will make the Giro roster.” Its sports director did not respond when contacted for this article.
If Rebellin and Schumacher were to stay home, CCC could rely on Sylvester Szmyd and Branislau Samoilau for the overall, Grega Bole, Bartlomiej Matysiak and Maciej Paterski for the sprints, Marek Rutkiewicz, Mateusz Taciak, Jan Hirt and Cristian Delle Stelle.
CCC only raced the Giro d’Italia once before, 12 years ago in 2003. To race in 2015, organiser RCS Sport had to leave home teams like Colombia, Wanty-Groupe Gobert and UnitedHealthcare.
“Those three teams all had similar things going for them and reasons to race,” Vegni said.
“Poland is interesting for RCS Sport. Cycling is going well in the country, which you see with World Champion Michal Kwiatkowski and Rafal Majka, the Tour of Poland is strong. With CCC, we have plenty of business opportunities.”