Tough call, maybe the toughest.
Is Angelo Zomegnan prepared to wield his razor sharp axe and cut Vacansoleil from the Giro d’Italia? Some some yes, some say no, some say he’s spending the next few days in a hotel room personally screening future podium girls.
Paul Kimmage, aka David Walsh the Younger, put Zomegnan on the spot with a few choice questions about the Giro’s role in the fight against doping. Worse, he forced Crazy Z to answer in English! It was like listening to English as a fifth language with Angelo talking in slow-mo.
Yup, it’s a brutal call but one that Zomegnan is not afraid to make, no matter what the team or the star power of the rider. He once insulted Lance Armstrong by calling him a “Texan slipper seller.” You gotta love the man’s joie de vivre or whatever that’s called in Italy.
So he’s capable of pulling the bathtub plug on the team of the Sunny Vacationers. He punished Danilo Di Luca for sullying the reputation of his Giro and he once went nuts when some fool suggested he use podium guysinstead of luscious Italian super-babes. Steam erupted from his ears like a cartoon Yosemite Sam.
Nobody in pro cycling knows the value of spectacle and controversy like Zomegnan. He would walk into Ricco’s hospital room with the Cobra on life support and inform him he’s kicked out and by the way his fiancee Vania has a big nose. He’s a prickly mofo but runs the show his way and generally that’s a bellissimo thing.
He’s already hinted at surprises (more podium girls?) so again, this is a roll of the dice at this point. Vacansoleil management has been in damage control mode for weeks. They ditched Ricco when he was still in critical condition with a registered letter — that’s class — and kept Mosquera and his masking agent on ice until further notice. They issued the knee-jerk zero tolerance policy. We have a zero tolerance for fake zero tolerance statements!
But where does this leave us? Still rolling the bones and waiting to see. Zomegnan is not going to have his answer until Monday and in the next few days there will be frantic phone calls, begging and pleading and back room deals.
Vacansoleil spent a boatload of money to step up to the next level and slipping Z a certificate for “free camping vacations for life” is a given. This is Italy, it’s a deal, what else would you expect? Well, actually we’re thinking naked girls delivered in unmarked hotel rooms. But that’s just us and we tend to get dramatic and cynical.
Whatever — that brings us to the feel-good angle and maybe, just maybe, the PR genius OUT for Crazy Z. Wrack your brain, think ’till it hurts, give up now, because the answer is Team Type 1. Head man visionary Phil Southerland was in Italy last year pitching Z on the diabetes mission. Team Type 1 is also on the list of wild cards and Southerland has done his best to grease the wheels — Phil, did you send the girl or not? This scenario makes perfect sense.
If and we use IF in capitals because it’s a Grand Tour, IF Zomegnan feels like sending an anti-doping message, he cuts Vacansoleil. Instant firestorm, indignation and whining until …. he announces the replacement: Team Type 1. You can’t argue against fighting a deadly disease and suddenly Zomegnan looks brilliant, strong on doping and full of angelic charity. A pretty good way to get into Heavan, Giro-style.
Remember, this is Giro impresario Angelo Zomegnan we’re talking about. He loves the dramatic gesture. He’s the same man who’s crazy enough to start his 2012 race in Washington DC — transatlantic flights be damned. So we’re tapping into the vibrations here and the vibes say this: Vacansoleil out, Team Type 1 in. Done deal with only naked girls as the true wild card.