MONTE ZONCOLAN, Italy (VN) – An angry Giro d’Italia race director Angelo Zomegnan blasted sport directors and the UCI for forcing the cancelation of Saturday’s climb and descent of Monte Crostis.
UCI officials ruled Friday evening that the Crostis would be removed from Saturday’s 14th stage, forcing organizers to re-route the stage over a second-category climb instead of the Crostis summit, which was supposed to be the showcase of this year’s Giro.
A seething Zomegnan said on RAI TV that sport directors had hijacked the UCI and defended the safety of the Crostis descent.
“Cycling does not deserve to be in the hands of these team managers and of a UCI that doesn’t know how to manage a problem at the appropriate moment,” Zomegnan told RAI. “The choice to not climb the Crostis came from those same sport directors who like to be in a car with air conditioning and television.”
Zomegnan said that plans to secure the Crostis climb and descent have been in the words for months. Crews worked during the past week to assemble a series of safety measures, including netting and padding on the tight corners.
“The Crostis now is safe descent,” he said. “It has padding, nets and it’s the least dangerous of all the descents.”
Zomegnan said the late-hour decision came as a result of a “ambush” by sport directors who used their collective power to influence the UCI. He also alluded to the ongoing power struggle between the UCI and the major teams.
“I can only saw that on one side there are cowards and on the other side ineptitude,” Zomegnan grumbled.
Riders and sport directors, however, were pleased with the decision.
There was a quiet sense of relief at the start line in Lienz on Saturday morning. Despite efforts to put up barriers, netting and padding, riders were not keen to race down the narrow, twisting road off the Crostis summit.
“It’s the sensible thing to do,” race leader Alberto Contador said. “There was no guarantee of assistance and the ambulances could not to get there if there was a problem.”
Sport directors had complained that riders would be without mechanical assistance for much of the descent. Mechanics would be carrying spare wheels via a motorcycle, but any sort of serious mechanical could have spelled doom to the riders. A meeting among the 23 sport directors resulted in 18 voting not to race the Crostis and five in favor.
“This Giro should not be decided by a question of luck,” said Roberto Damiani of Lampre. “There was also a question of safety. The Giro should be won on the climbs, not on a descent that’s dangerous and without mechanical assistance.”