Tour de France 2020

Tour director stands by decision not to invite Pantani

Tour de France race director Jean-Marie Leblanc ruled out any chance of reversing Wednesday’s decision not to invite Mercatone Uno and their team leader Marco Pantani, Italy’s1998 Tour champion, to this year’s race. Leblanc admitted the choice hadn't been easy, but in the end was unanimous among the electors. "However, we mustn't go back on the decision because that would be admitting we were wrong," LeBlanc said on Thursday. "Anyway, if we made an exception of Mercatone-Uno [Pantani's team] why not then Saeco [the team of ace sprinter Mario Cipollini]?" he added. Defending

By VeloNews Interactive

Tour de France race director Jean-Marie Leblanc ruled out any chance of reversing Wednesday’s decision not to invite Mercatone Uno and their team leader Marco Pantani, Italy’s1998 Tour champion, to this year’s race. Leblanc admitted the choice hadn’t been easy, but in the end was unanimous among the electors. “However, we mustn’t go back on the decision because that would be admitting we were wrong,” LeBlanc said on Thursday. “Anyway, if we made an exception of Mercatone-Uno [Pantani’s team] why not then Saeco [the team of ace sprinter Mario Cipollini]?” he added. Defending Tour champion Lance Armstrong said that Pantani’s presence at the Tour would be missed. “The Tour’s fans will miss Pantani, as will I,” Armtrong told AFP. “He’s an icon in world sport and a true personnality, much the way Cipo’ [Mario Cipollini] is.”