Unhappiness at Giro selections

Panaria and Colombia-Selle Italia have been awarded the two wild card places available at the Giro d

Panaria and Colombia-Selle Italia have been awarded the two wild card places available at the Giro d

PIC BY TDWSPORT.COM With only two wild card places available at the Giro d’Italia to a number of Italian continental teams there was always bound to be some unhappiness when the race’s organisers announced the destination of those two spots, and so it has proved. With the 20 ProTour teams already guaranteed a ride, the Panaria and Colombia-Selle Italia squads have been allocated the last two places, leaving the likes of Barloworld, Landbouwkrediet, Naturino and Acqua e Sapone sidelined from one of their season’s main objectives. The selection of Panaria is no real surprise given their roster includes last year’s stage winner and 12th place finisher Emanuele Sella, former Giro KoM winner Julio Alberto Perez Cuapio and Australian sprinter Graeme Brown. But Colombia’s selection is more debatable and seems to be based on the fact that team manager’s Gianni Savio’s team have often been very animated in their attacking efforts during recent seasons. Landbouwkrediet spokesman Gino Gylain was understandably unhappy about the decision given the fifth place gained by Yaroslav Popovych last year and the Ukrainian’s third place the year before that. However, Popovych’s move to Discovery Channel has clearly weakened this Belgo-Italian team which is co-sponsored by famous frame-builder Ernesto Colnago. “We are honestly disappointed by the news,” said Gylain. “Last year we played a very active role at the Giro and this brought us a significant amount of publicity. Naturally the disappointment is more keenly felt on the Italian side of the team, especially by our co-sponsor Ernesto Colnago.” Acqua e Sapone team manager Palmiro Masciarelli told the Italian Tuttobici website he was “bitter and upset. I hope that there is still some hope for us. We will now concentrate on Tirreno and San Remo, but this a big setback for sure.” Barloworld team manager Emanuele Bombini said he preferred not to comment on the decision, but added that it was a “reflection of the revolution that is taking place in world cycling.” Naturino team boss Vincenzo Santoni offered a slightly more optimistic perspective, saying he felt most of all for his sponsor and for his team leader, Francesco Casagrande, who was hoping to ride one more Giro before his retirement at the end of this season. Santoni concluded: “I don’t think this will be the last word on this matter, there will be more surprises before the start of the Giro.” Perhaps most surprising of all was the fact that the announcement was made yesterday. At the belated Giro launch on January 23 it was made clear that the wild cards would be revealed on March 31, after Tirreno and Milan-San Remo had taken place. There is no indication yet from the race organisers as to why this unforeseen change to the initial arrangements was made. – There was better news yesterday for three of Spain’s continental teams. The Relax, Kaiku and Comunitat Valenciana teams were invited to compete in the Tour of the Basque Country and San Sebastian Classic, both ProTour events.