Today marks the 150th anniversary of the unification of Italy, known as il Risorgimento, “the Resurgence”. 150 years ago this week the citadel of Gaeta, about halfway between Rome and Naples, surrendered after a two month siege and King Vittorio Emanuele II proclaimed the nation unified.
The 2011 edition of the Giro d’Italia promises to be one of the hardest editions ever and has the risorgimento
as its theme. The three race will go from Turin to Milan, via Scicily in the south and over many of the hardest mountain passes in the Alps.
But I am now wondering if there will be an additional stage from Milan to Lausanne, Switzerland. Because Alberto Contador’s return to the Giro could be against the backdrop of an appeal at the CAS. Just as Alejandro Valverde raced the Tour of Romandie only to get a ban from the CAS and see his results stripped, with Lampre’s Simon Špilak becoming the official winner, the very same thing could happen once again in the Giro.
Contador is free to race, even with an appeal going on. But should the appeal result in a ban, this is highly likely to be backdated to the date of the original adverse findings for Clenbuterol last July. Any subsequent results gained since then will be scratched. Contador’s already a favourite for the race, he won the 2008 edition after entering at the last minute. This leads to the worrying scenario of the Giro being determined not by three weeks of racing on the roads of Italy but in an office in Switzerland. The Lausanne stage could prove more critical than the ascension of the Zoncolan.
Faced with this I’m already confused. I am looking forward to the race but the Spaniard’s presence troubles me. Will I watch the race only to see the results changed and overturned?
If I have doubts, then the views of RCS are the real interest. Race organiser Angelo Zomegnan has already said he doesn’t want Danilo Di Luca back and whilst The Killer has a legal right to race with Katusha, it’s another thing to be welcomed by the Giro, the door can be shut. A decision will likely be a commercial one: RCS will review whether the spectacle offered by Contador, and the added Spanish interest in the race, can outweigh the humiliation of seeing the race re-written.
For what it’s worth, I think the Giro promises to be The Race of 2011. It is an event bigger than any rider and in the name of sport, it cannot risk the spectre of the result being switched by a court. The first call should not be to block Contador but to push for the UCI and WADA to act as fast as possible with a view to resolving this headache before 29 May.