Di Luca reflects on victory, Cunego and Bettini self-critical after sprint, Gil angry after motorbik
Stage three winner Danilo Di Luca was quick to praise his team-mates after his victory in Giffoni Valle Piana “particularly Andrea No. Now I want to do a double by winning close to my home at L’Aquila (tomorrow), and also do whatever I can to take the maglia rosa.”
Stage three runner-up Damiano Cunego was not quite as happy with the performance of his team, and complained about the lack of support he received in the closing moments of the stage. He also criticised himself for starting the sprint too late. Cunego’s first question after crossing the line was: “Did I get the jersey?”
Bettini was also critical of his own sprinting performance, admitting he had overcooked the last bend and had to brake hard as Di Luca took the right line in front of him. He denied that his Quick Step team and Di Luca’s Liquigas outfit had made a deal over the outcome of the stage, insisting that both teams had something to gain from the stage and that’s why there appeared to be a certain amount of cooperation as Quick Step chased down breakaway Russel Van Hout and Liquigas split the peloton on the final climb.
“These kind of things are always happening in cycling,” said Bettini. “It’s normal to share the work when you have common goals. But I should point out that I was trying to win the stage as well but committed an error 300 metres from the line.”
Bettini is hoping that he can carry the leader’s jersey through his home region of Tuscany, but knows he will be under threat in tomorrow’s L’Aquila stage. Of today’s finish in Frosinone, Bettini said: “I know it well because I won there at Tirreno-Adriatico last year. The run-in is twisty and it could end like stage three did, although a bunch sprint is more likely.”
One rider less happy with how yesterday’s stage went was Liberty Seguros’ Koldo Gil, who attacked a kilometre from the top of the final climb, got a gap and then had his rear wheel broken when he was hit by a race motorbike from behind. “The bikes are right on top of us, much too close, and these things can happen,” said the disappointed Spaniard.
“I attacked on the hard point of the climb, no one had responded. I was getting into a rhythm, changed gear, but as I did the chain skipped and the bike went into me from behind. I’m pretty unhappy because you don’t get too many opportunities like this.” The bike’s pilot later apologised for the incident.
Meanwhile, Gil’s now former Liberty team-mate, Nuno Ribeiro, who was prevented from starting the Giro last week because of an elevated red blood cell count has told Portuguese paper Record that he is confident he will not fail the EPO test he subsequently underwent.
Ribeiro also said of his apparently mutually agreed departure from Liberty: “I wasn’t pressured into rescinding the contract. The mutual agreement was the best solution. I am sure that I will be proved negative in the anti-doping controls. I have no reason to think otherwise. Then I will be a free agent and after 15 days I will be free to compete again if my red blood cell count has dropped.”
Belgium lost two of its eight representatives on the race yesterday as Tom Steels (Davitamon-Lotto) climbed off because of the effects of a mystery virus that has required him to take antibiotics for several days and Christophe Detilloux (Francaise des Jeux) abandoned with a swollen right knee.
Finally, the latest medical bulletin on stage two crash victim Alberto Lopez de Munain has said that the Basque is continuing to improve, although he is being kept under observation and will remain so for another day or two. The rider keeps asking Euskaltel team manager Miguel Madariaga to take him home to Spain, but doctors are still concerned about the damage one of his broken ribs has done to one of his lungs. Consequently, he still breathing with the aid of artificial respiration.
The Giro race doctor who treated Lopez de Munain at the scene of the crash has since said that that the Basque rider would almost certainly have died if he hadn’t been wearing a helmet.