'Twas the night before the Tour, when all through the bunch, not a rider was stirring, not even for lunch.
Always a clue that it's Tour time when everyday, the headlines talk of dopage, dopage. Who said the Tour didn't have a prologue this year? How 'bout a little score card to keep things straight? Landis: Loser. Rasmussen: Loser, then Sorta Winner. Team Rabobank: DQ'd. Dario Frigo... Who?
Yes, Dario Frigo. Way back in 2005, the French authorities caught Frigo's wife Susanna driving about France with a thermos full of EPO. Oopsy. The couple's trial has now concluded with a guilty verdict, and a judicial recommendation of a year in prison (suspended, I believe) and a €15, 000 fine. In an interview with French newspaper, le Dauphiné Libéré (not to be confused with the bike race of the same name), Frigo said that the team management of Fassa Bortolo "did not leave him any choice." They chided him for his lack of results (he hadn't won much of anything since 2003), and he "knew what he had to do." "The whole world used EPO. Some of the others cheated and won more than me. Today, I regret that I did what the system imposed on me," he said. "In France, today, the riders are respected by their team. The French are the most serious about their controls.... In Spain and Italy, it is different." Despite his kind words toward the French, Frigo still faces a sentencing hearing on 15 September. Perhaps the judge will smile upon him.
Smile if you're Doping Free! Marco Guadagnini, an amateur cyclist in Italy, has started an anti-doping campaign, featuring "I'm Doping Free" tatoos. Get yours today! All the cool people are doing it, including Damiano Cunego and Italian swimmer, Alessia Filippi. Guadagnini will donate the €1 price of each tat to charities devoted to young athletes in developing countries.
There will always be contracts. Gilberto Simoni has ended the speculation about his future and signed a new contract with Diquigiovanni Androni for one year. Alessandro Bertolini, Leonardo Moser (ex-NGC Medical), and Thomas Bertolini have also signed with the team whose name is far too long. Last but not least, DS Savio has secured the services of Michele Scarponi, who at last ends his stay in Puerto Purgatorio. Over at Acqua&Sapone, meanwhile, Stefano Garzelli has signed on for two more years. He hopes to return to the Giro next year.
Quite the headline grabber this week, Simoni. Casa Simoni celebrates the birth of daughter Clarissa, who joins brother Enrico and Sister Sofia. In other baby news, Robbie Hunter has a new daughter, his first, named Mandy Hunter. Congrats to all the new moms and dads from the Gossip!
In 2009, Cofidis will no longer ride as a pro tour team. The team will continue, but will not spend the cash to join the pro tour. In related news, Nick Nuyens has already received a four-year contract offer from Rabobank. Last one out, turn out the lights.
Word of the day? Dickhead. At least, if you're talking to Mark Cavendish. Pozzato? A dickhead. Perhaps this is a term of endearment in Britain. It wasn't in my dictionary.
Due to a ridiculous number of interruptions, this edition of the Gossip is a tad underdone. We apologize for the inconvenience. Normal Gossip service will return pronto! Grazie à tutti for your understanding. ~Gavia