Michele Acquarone’s future at the head of the Giro d’Italia appears in doubt with a press conference scheduled on Wednesday. The Italian is waiting for a €13m [£10.7] fraud investigation to finish while the race organiser seems to be changing direction.
Cycling Weekly understands Acquarone will speak publicly for the first time since RCS Mediagroup suspended him.
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After the World Championships in Florence, publishing house RCS Mediagroup shook up its sports organisation subsidiary, RCS Sport. In addition to the Giro d’Italia, it runs other races – the Tirreno-Adriatico, Milan-San Remo… and events like the Rome Marathon.
It suspended Acquarone with pay and media relations director, Matteo Pastore. Administrative director, Laura Bertinotti quit, CEO Giacomo Catano switched departments. After it handed the investigation over to external experts, Raimondo Zanaboni replaced Chairman Flavio Biondi.
Acquarone’s Wednesday announcement could be the biggest movement since the investigation began in earnest on October 1. He maintains his innocence.
“I’ve never had my hands on the money, the only money I’ve seen was represented in digits on our reports: X amount of income and X amount of costs,” he told Cycling Weekly at the end of October. “My goal was to make sure the accounts were in order and to make the best product possible, a long-lasting one.”
Acquarone was unable comment when contacted for this article.
Other news adds to the likelihood of changes this week from RCS Sport’s Milan headquarters. Italian Tutto Bici website reported that this morning RCS Mediagroup is considering Paolo Bellino as new race director. He would be only the sixth directors of the 104-year-old race and close the shortest chapter. Acquarone took over from Angelo Zomegnan midway through 2011.
Bellino comes from outside the cycling world and currently serves as the Italian Athletics Federation’s secretary general.