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The Giro d’Italia threw a lifeline to the Spanish team, Fuji-Servetto, by including the team in this year’s corsa rosa.
There was no such final-hour reprieve for reigning Italian champion Filippo Simeoni or his Ceramica Flaminia team, however.
“It’s a scandal,” Simeoni told the Italian wire service, ANSA. “I don’t exclude some sort of protest action before the start of the race. Only in Italy is the national champion not respected.”
The 37-year-old Simeoni was hoping for a last-minute change of heart from Giro organizers, who had overlooked the small Italian team in its initial release of teams to start the 2009 Giro on May 9 in Venice.
On Thursday, race officials revealed that Fuji-Servetto would be the final team in this year’s Giro.
The Spanish team, racing under the Saunier Duval banner, was rocked by scandal last year when Riccardo Riccò and Leonardo Piepoli both tested positive for the banned blood booster CERA. Riccò won two stages and finished second overall in the 2008 Giro.
Simeoni expressed his frustration by the Giro’s decision.
“There is no reason that a team as competitive as ours is left out of the Giro,” Simeoni said. “Race director Angelo Zomegnan will have to explain his motives behind his decision. He should also explain why certain teams with problems with doping are allowed to start and others (to start) who don’t have nearly the results that we do.”
Race officials defended their decision, but didn’t expand on their reasoning.
“The organizers of the Giro are not obliged to admit to the start the team of the reigning Italian champion,” said Sergio Meda, media chief for race organizers RCS-Sport.
Twenty-two teams of nine riders apiece will line up for the team time trial in Venice on May 9 for the centenary Giro.