It would not be the Giro without Polemica. Saturday, at the course presentation held at La Fenice in Venezia, the Italian pro tour team Lampre had only one rider, Marzio Bruseghin in attendance. Where, you may ask, were the team's other two stars, World Champion Alessandro Ballan and former Giro winner Damiano Cunego?
Asked by the press for the reason for his absence, Ballan said, "ask Saronni." It turns out that Beppe Saronni, himself a former World Champion and Giro winner, objects to the decision of Gazzetta dello Sport to portray this year's Giro d'Italia as a showdown between Lance Armstrong and Ivan Basso. In Saronni's view, the Italian paper has shown almost total disinterest in his own team's riders, and in a fit of pique, he decided that neither he nor his two star riders would attend the presentation. Ballan said he was "disappointed" by the decision, but declined to say anything further. No comment has yet appeared from Damiano Cunego.
In their report, tuttobiciweb included a photo of Cunego posing with the "I'm Doping Free" logo, suggesting that the Lampre protest might also be a statement against the attention granted to Ivan Basso, who is returning from a doping sanction. In this, Saronni may have a point: Gazzetta has provided positive, bordering fawning, coverage of Basso's return to racing. If the American press has spilled significant ink on Armstrong's return, mocked by some as the Second Coming, Gazzetta has proven equally, if not more, attentive to the every move of Italian Ivan Basso.
No doubt more details on this bit of drama will surface in time. A fued between Saronni and Gazzetta? What could be a better way to begin the Italian season.
Source: tuttobiciweb.it, original story, Il Gazzettino.