Stage 6 provided for a big change with some big names making a move to topple Astana and race leader Kloden. Ivan Basso, Michele Scarponi and Stenfao Garzelli mounted a strong attack that resulted in a stage win for Scarponi and the new overall lead. Ivan Basso seemed to be testing his legs for the Giro with teammate Vincenzo Nibali helping with the work. Basso did not just use his teammate to gain time advantage, he was also seen pulling at the front to drive the pace.
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Ivan Basso looked like he redeemed himself yesterday with the honest admission of working with Dr. Fuentes and admitting that he is “Birillo”. But Basso has a career and palmares to think about. The Giro victory was a major milestone that was ripe to be taken away now that Basso admitted to doping.
The news is not so much shocking as it is refreshing. When Ivan Basso quit Discovery Channel last week it seemed to be a quiet admission of guilt. This time was not going to be so easy for Basso to get around the CONI investigation. More evidence came about and the DNA match of blood bags with Jan Ullrich did not bode well for Basso. The walls of justice were closing in on Basso.
Photo credit should read DOUG PENSINGER/AFP/Getty Images
Well that did not last long. Ivan Basso announced that he is leaving the Discovery Channel team. Basso asked out of his two year contract in order to avoid being a distraction to the team as they try to find a new sponsor. Basso wants to make it known that this decision was 100% his and not of the team. Basso spoke with
Ivan Basso is angry about the timing of the recent reports about the opening of the CONI investigation. In fact the timing is questionable since we are two weeks away from the start of the Giro D’Italia and in the Spring Classics season. Basso was to make an appearance at Fleche Wallone on Wednesday and Liege bastonge Liege on Sunday.
Investigators from CONI did say that the Spanish Guardia Civil contacted them in November and December with more information and samples from the bags of blood that allegedly belonged to Basso. The investigation was ongoing but in private. Perhaps CONI was in a Discovery phase of gathering evidence to put together a solid case against Basso, but the timing suspect. CONI has had a bad reputation of pooping on the Giro in order to get the maximum publicity from drug seizures, raids and tests. So for Basso to question the timing of the latest episode of Operation Puerto is not out of the question.
The Operation Puerto case against Ivan Basso was suspended back in October due to a lack of evidence. The Italian Olympic Committee (CONI) did not have substantial evidence to prosecute Ivan Basso, so they suspended the case with the caveat that it could be reopened if new evidence arises in the future. It is not immediately clear if any new evidence has turned up, but CONI has decided to summon Basso to appear before officials on May 2nd.
The committee said on its Web site (www.coni.it) that the rider had been summoned to appear before officials in Rome at 1500 local time (1300 GMT) on May 2 and had been notified personally of the summons.
Discovery Channel must have seen this coming when they decided to sign Basso. Christian Prudhomme is cracking down on the Operation Puerto people, 50 in all. Armed with the news of Jan Ullrich’s positive DNA match with the Operation Puerto blood bags and news that Fuentes is back to his old ways, the ASO must have a queasy feeling in their stomachs. But I can’t say I do not blame them.
Operation Puerto was a mess in many ways. the investigation was sloppy and inconclusive. There were more leaks than actual evidence. The Spanish Guardia Civil looked about as bad as Alberto Gonzalez does now. Poor management of information and a bumbled investigation do not help the cause of eliminating drugs in cycling.
With all of the sound and fury signifying nothing. That is a good way to summarize Operation Puerto which come Monday will be archived. The investigation failed to turn out any solid evidence against anyone that was remotely associated with the case.
Ivan Basso, Jan Ullrich, Fransico Mancebo were barred from the Tour de France based on thin evidence. Liberty Seguros dropped their sponsorship of their ProTour team. Cycling was cast in the shadow of doping once again during its peak exposure time. This combined with Landis’ testosterone issue and you have a body blow for cycling in general.
(pic from Flickr)
The second edition of the Tour of California is in the record books with another win by a hometown racer. Levi Leipheimer took the reigns over from Floyd Landis as the next Tour of California champ. The race proved very popular with fans though it did not break the record of most attended sporting event in California. It just missed by about 100,000 or so.
The race continued to attract record crowds, besting its own record of 1.3 million fans last year, and shoring its place as the most attended cycling race in the U.S.
Not that 1.3 Million is a shabby number at all. The race continues to grow and it is a good chance for domestic US Pros to rub elbows with Euro ProTour Pros who are just starting to find their legs for the season.
Ivan Basso was interviewed by SkyLife.it where he was asked about the current problem in Italian Soccer, Marco Pantani, the USA and his objectives for 2007. The interview is quite frank both the the interviewer’s side and Basso’ side. This is really a refreshing let’s not beat around the bush type of interview. Unfortunately Basso does not want to talk much about Operation Puerto and does not care to see the Pantani movie.
“My first thoughts are with the policeman that died. I would like that no one forgets him and what happened. Then I would like to add that last year on the Giro course there were 6 million spectators and not one punch was thrown. There aren’t as many police present and usually nothing bad happens.
Then soccer connotates violence?
At the moment yes. Why is there violence in soccer and not in cycling? It is difficult for me to give an answer that will satisfy everyone. But my take would be like this: Soccer is closely followed. All it takes is one error by a referee, any mistake could reignite tension with fans. In my world fortunately this does not happen.