Team Boss Luca Scinto thrilled.
Two steps forward, one step back. Italian Style.
The Giro d’Italia turned yellow, pulling what can only be called a cowardly and clueless decision to award YellowFluo-Neri Sottoli a wildcard spot.
This is the same squad — then titled Vini Fantini-Selle Italia — that embarrassed the Giro last year with EPO positives for Danilo Di Luca and Mauro Santambrogio. Nevertheless, RCS Sport announced that along with the Androni Giocattoli, Bardiani-CSF and Colombia teams, YellowFluo gets a start.
The stated reason for their inclusion was a desire to “sustain the Italian cycling movement.” Well, this is not promoting Italian cycling, it’s promoting Italian doping in cycling. The message the Giro decided to send teams was not to worry about a doping bust during the race because there won’t be any future repercussions. RCS will simply issue the standard “gosh, we’re so disappointed” PR statement, then shrug the shoulders and wink.
One has to wonder if the Pink Admiral would have let YellowFluo crawl back into the Giro if he was still in power. Michele Acquarone did a fantastic job of promoting the Giro vibe outside Italy but news that YellowFluo is back in the race is not good PR anywhere besides Italy.
Set against the dark backdrop of the USADA Reasoned Decision on US Postal and the on-going (forever) Mantova doping investigation into the Italian Lampre squad, this is just a bad call. Here’s a sport desperately trying to get past the public perception that riders are still doped to the gills and yet the Giro says, hey, no worries YellowFluo, let’s do this again. It boggles the mind. Why not hire Riccardo Ricco as your new race director while you’re at it?
Meanwhile, a clean team with a good reputation like IAM Cycling is turned down. Same deal with South African squad MTN – Qhubeka — a team with the best feel-good story in cycling. Qhubeka’s Gerald Ciolek won Milan-San Remo last season but that his presence won’t “honor” the Giro as much as YellowFLuo and their disgraceful behavior.
Di Luca, a serial doping offender, has shamed the Giro three times. “He punched the Giro d’Italia in the stomach in 2007 and almost did it again in 2009,” said former Giro d’Italia race director Angelo Zomegnan. Di Luca got in his final shot in 2013 and thankfully is now banned for life.
With the decision by RCS Sport to invite YellowFluo-Neri Sottoli, the Giro d’Italia has punched itself in the face. Self-inflicted wounds are always the most embarrassing.