Another Tour without Cippo!

Discussion in 'Professional Cycling' started by Vo2, May 20, 2003.

  1. Vo2

    Vo2 Member

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    What has Mario done to p' off LeBlanc and co so badly? I know he has never finished a Tour before, but c'mon, he's the World Champ!

    Taken from cyclingnews.com:

    Tour selection leaves Cipollini in the cold
    Domina Vacanze's reaction: "Difficult to understand"
    By Jeff Jones and Tim Maloney

    The non-selection of Mario Cipollini's Domina Vacanze team for the Centenary Tour de France has amazed cycling fans, who are wondering why one of the world's most popular riders and the current World Champion deserves to be left out of the world's biggest race. Three out of the four wild cards were given to French teams: Ag2r, Brioches la Boulangère and Jean Delatour, while the fourth went to popular Spanish squad Euskaltel-Euskadi.

    Jean Delatour scraped in after a poor start to the season, and lamented before the wild cards were announced that not being selected for the Tour could mean the end of the team. They were given a reprieve, after good performances in the Tour of Romandie and the Four Days of Dunkirk. In addition, Patrice Halgand won a stage in last year's Tour.

    For Domina Vacanze, the decision came as a disappointment, especially after the high of Mario Cipollini's Binda-equalling stage win yesterday in the Giro. The last time that Cipollini raced the Tour was in 1999, when he won four stages. Since then he has been overlooked by the Tour de France, more due to his performances off the bike than on it and the Tour's dislike of his seeming lack of respect for the race.

    When informed of the decision, Domina Vacanze's team director Giuseppe Petito told Cyclingnews, "Well we're stunned. It's really difficult to understand the decision. We think you want to put the best riders in the race and Cipollini is the World Champion, the best rider in the world. It's kind of an embarrassment for us but also for the people who made the decision. But we hope there still might be a chance because there's a team that has a spot that may not be able to ride. We're still hopeful."

    Mario Cipollini couldn't believe it either. "This is completely absurd," he said in an interview with Bloomberg News. "This piece of news leaves us completely puzzled. I don't understand this unrelenting attack on my reputation, considering I am wearing an important jersey. They will be remembered for being the first ones not to invite the World Champion to their race. At this point, we're absolutely speechless."

    In further comments to La Gazzetta dello Sport, the World Champion added, "I feel like being sick, but I have to be diplomatic and controlled."

    For his part, Tour de France race director Jean-Marie Leblanc repeated the same reason that he has used in the past to rule out Cipollini, namely that the Italian star has never finished the three week race. "Cipollini is a great champion, a great sprinter and a real star, but we weren't convinced he deserved our total confidence for a Tour de France that will hit the mountains after just one week," said Leblanc to Bloomberg. "I have of lot admiration for Mario but we weren't convinced. The Tour de France is a competition not a show."

    Past history not good
    Although Leblanc cited Cipo's inability to finish the race as the primary reason for leaving him out, it must be noted that Cipollini is certainly capable of riding over the mountains - he has shown that in the Giro on a number of occasions by finishing in Milan. Also, it's difficult for him to finish the Tour when he doesn't get invited to the start.

    Perhaps the ASO haven't forgotten what happened before Paris-Roubaix last year, when Cipollini, as the wearer of the World Cup jersey, announced that he would like to take part in the race. The organisers obtained special dispensation from the UCI to allow a 26th team to start, but then Cipollini decided he didn't want to race after all.

    Cipollini went on to have one of his best ever seasons, starting with his victory in Milan-San Remo and following that with Gent-Wevelgem, six stages in the Giro, three stages in the Vuelta, and then the World Championships in Zolder. Despite this, his team didn't gain status as a "Top 10 Club", thereby not being guaranteed starts in all the major tours in 2003.

    Once again, Cipollini had to rely on being given a wild card in order to be selected for the Tour, and earlier this year there seemed to be a reconciliation of sorts between the champion Italian and the Société du Tour de France. Race director Jean-Marie Leblanc said in January this year that "We are favourably prejudiced towards Cipollini. But it is necessary to see how his team, which has not raced yet, performs. If this is the Cipollini of the past season, he has a good chance to be invited back."

    Now that seems highly improbable, although there is a vacant 22nd team spot which is currently being held for Jan Ullrich's Team Coast, which is being reorganised as Team Bianchi. In a statement today, the ASO said "The Coast team is currently suspended; the organisers of the Tour de France will decide upon its eventual replacement once the International Cycling Union (UCI) has definitely taken its stand on the question."

    Where is the competition?
    The Tour de France will remain as the biggest bicycle race in the world, but it risks losing status if it continually ignores the best riders. This year's Centenary Tour is looking more and more like a cakewalk for Lance Armstrong, who would be the first to admit that competition is good for the race. With the absence of Jan Ullrich, Igor Gonzalez de Galdeano and Raimondas Rumsas, Armstrong will not face three of his biggest rivals. Someone may step in to fill those shoes, but there are no guarantees at the moment.

    The sprinting competition should still be strong, but the absence of Mario Cipollini once again will take away some of the spectacle of the race, which is seen by many as much more than a competition on two wheels.

    The 21 teams that will ride the Centenary Tour are as follows:

    Ag2r-Prevoyance
    Alessio
    Brioches La Boulangère
    Cofidis
    Crédit Agricole
    Euskaltel-Euskadi
    Fassa Bortolo
    FDJeux.com
    Gerolsteiner
    ibanesto.com
    Jean Delatour
    Kelme
    Lotto-Domo
    ONCE
    Quick Step-Davitamon
    Rabobank
    Sidermec
    Saeco
    Team CSC
    Telekom
    US Postal - Berry Floor
     
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  2. luke1972

    luke1972 New Member

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    My Cycling club in Melbourne has a French guy in it. Maybe we should get a wild card entry as well.
    :) Luke
     
  3. steve

    steve Administrator
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    I would have liked to see chippo's team selected in front of Ag2R or Jean Delatour

     
  4. Mercxstrom

    Mercxstrom New Member

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    it really sucks... leblanc is a racist!! he only chooses french ppl :( cipo is the world champion and he isnt in :( it really sucks :(
     
  5. prestonjb

    prestonjb New Member

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    A very cool-headed Italian friend of mine has amazingly blown his top over this and refuses to watch the Tour because they declined the WORLD CHAMPION.

    I do think that it was a very bad choice. If the UCI was in charge instead of the ASO you would think things would be different... Or would there even be a world cup?

    This is what you get when you go too commercial. It is going to get just as bad as the Doritos-Sugar-Bowl or the Tampex-PGA-Open... yech...
     
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