Bettini threatens to go home

Paolo Bettini is talking about going home after being stripped of today's stage win, and maintains t

Paolo Bettini is talking about going home after being stripped of today's stage win, and maintains t

Paolo Bettini has threatened to leave the Giro d'Italia after having victory on today's stage into Frosinone stripped from him by the judges, who ruled that the Italian had not kept to his line in the sprint and forced Baden Cooke into the barriers. Speaking on Italian TV after the judges' decision had been announced, Bettini, who still leads the race, said: "I'm ready to leave the Giro. I attacked from a long way out, I kept on the same trajectory. When I made a second effort my chain jumped, and [Cooke] came on the left when he should have attacked on the right." Bettini also claimed that he hadn't seen anyone coming on his left shoulder and had simply stuck to his line.

Also speaking on TV, Bettini's team-mate and close friend Luca Paolini offered unsurprising support to his compatriot. He called Bettini's loss of the stage win "totally unjustified, first because Baden Cooke's front wheel touched Paolo's back wheel, secondly because Paolo did not move suddenly off his line, and third because he did not force Cooke to ride into the barriers."

Stage winner Luca Mazzanti claimed the fifth amendment when asked for his version of events. "I had my head down," said Mazzanti, who gave the non-ProTour Panaria team its second win of the race. "I don't know and don't really want to say whether Bettini forced Cooke towards the barriers."

Second-placed Dario Cioni said that "Cooke's fall impeded my sprint. An advertising banner thrown up by the Australian rider hit me on the wrist, preventing me from making a decisive move."

We will post Baden Cooke's comments on the incident when they come through, but procycling's point of view is that the judges were right to disqualify Bettini, but it does not seem right for Cooke to be placed dead last on the stage. Let us know your opinion by mailing

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