Italian Champion, Giovanni Visconti lost his temper today and his chance to win a Giro d’Italia stage. In Tirano, one of the furthest points north from his home in Sicily, he pushed rival Diego Ulissi in the sprint.
“Crazy, crazy, I had to do that. I yelled at him 10 times, the more I yelled, the more he closed. I had to raise my hand to hold it. If not, what was I to do?” he told Cycling Weekly at the finish line.
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“Illegal? It’s a risk, but it’s a risk when someone knocks me off.”
Race rules are clear, if a rider takes his hands off his handlebars in the sprint, he’s disqualified. Team Farnese Vini’s Visconti squeezed between the barrier and Ulissi’s left side and won the sprint. Moments later, though, the race jury annulled his result.
“Ulissi maintained his line,” said the president of the jury, Thierry Diederen. “The Italian champion has been disqualified.”
It moved Ulissi to first and Visconti to third, behind Spain’s Pablo Lastras (Movistar). It also fined Visconti 200 Swiss Francs or £140 (€162).
Visconti and Ulissi (team Lampre) were part of a 16-man escape in the 17 leg from Feltre to Tirano, 230 kilometres. As the race descended down the Aprica pass towards Tirano, the two moved free with Jan Bakelants (Omega Pharma) and Lastras.
Italy’s Ulissi started the sprint down the left side of the finishing straight. Visconti responded on the right, but switched to the left side. As he moved up on Ulissi, the problems began.
“The sprint? A mistake. He selected the most complicated part of the road to pass, but if Ulissi hadn’t changed his line he would have won without a problem,” Farnese Vini’s sports director, Luca Scinto told Cycling Weekly.
“Diego closed it lightly and didn’t maintain his line. Clearly, if you take your hands off the bars, then you are going to be disqualified, those are the rules. I’m sorry, he’s the Italian champion and for him to win in the 150th anniversary of Italy at the Giro d’Italia would have been fantastic.”
Ulissi said on television after the stage that he believed he held his line.
Visconti is twice Italian Champion and dearly wanted to win take his first win since this spring at the GP Lugano. The Giro d’Italia guaranteed his Farnese Vini team the right to race the Giro d’Italia early, in November and ahead of the race, and gave him race number 150 in honour of Italy’s anniversary.
A doping investigation linked to Lance Armstrong’s former trainer, Michele Ferrari almost saw Visconti miss the Giro. On April 21, police searched the homes of Visconti, team-mate Diego Caccia and Sky’s Morris Possoni. Italian prosecutor Benedetto Roberti in Padova ordered the search as part of his new, international investigation of Ferrari.
In 2006, the Italian courts cleared Michele Ferrari of criminal charges accusing him of distributing doping products, but the Italian Olympic Committee (CONI) banned him from working with UCI-licensed cyclists in Italy.
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