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Gasparotto signs with Lampre; Barloworld’s Corti says announcement ‘too early’

Following the withdrawal of his team’s title sponsor, Barloworld’s Enrico Gasparotto has signed with the Lampre team for 2009, a decision criticized by his current team manager. Gasparotto reached the agreement this week, following a decision by Barloworld to pull its sponsorship of the team after one of its riders tested positive for a new version of EPO during the Tour de France.

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Gasparotto briefly wore the leader's jersey in the 2007 Giro.

Gasparotto briefly wore the leader’s jersey in the 2007 Giro.

Photo: AFP (file photo)

Following the withdrawal of his team’s title sponsor, Barloworld’s Enrico Gasparotto has signed with the Lampre team for 2009, a decision criticized by his current team manager.

Gasparotto reached the agreement this week, following a decision by Barloworld to pull its sponsorship of the team after one of its riders tested positive for a new version of EPO during the Tour de France.

Barloworld’s Moises Duenas tested positive for a Continuous Erythropoiesis Receptor Activator (CERA) and was immediately fired by the team. The news, however, prompted the South African firm to announce its decision to end its support of the team.

Like Barloworld, the Saunier Duval-Scott USA team was rocked by a doping positive during the Tour and its title sponsor, too, withdrew as the chief sponsor of that team. The team, however, quickly signed a new contract with a Mexican meatpacking firm and has been relaunched as Scott USA-American Beef.

The firm running the Barloworld team has been scrambling to secure a new sponsor and manager Claudio Corti said he remains confident that the squad will survive to ride in 2009. Corti said despite the immediate uncertainty he remains committed to supporting his riders and meeting contracts for the coming season.

As a result of the effort, Corti said he was “disappointed” with Gasparotto and Lampre because they announced the deal at an unfortunate time.

“It’s wrong to announce an agreement so early,” Corti said Thursday. “In life and in cycling you have to follow the rules and ideas of respectful behavior. There’s a rule in cycling, that new contracts for the following season can’t be officialized before September 1. This clause exists to protect the plans of teams and sponsors.”

“We were unable to reach an agreement with Gasparotto for several reasons and each has decided to go their own way,” Corti said.” However I at least expected both he and his future team to respect the rules. Gasparotto is still under contract with Team Barloworld and faces a busy and very intense three months of racing. What has happened has penalized the team that gave him the best possible conditions to emerge and be successful.”

Gasparotto gained the distinction of wearing the first maglia rosa of the 2007 Giro d’Italia, when his then Liquigas team won the opening team time trial of that year’s race. Gasparrato earned the jersey when he crossed the line first, apparently to the chagrin of his team leader Danilo Di Luca. Gasparotto left Liquigas at the end of 2007 and joined Barloworld for 2008.

He competed in this year’s Giro, but was not named to Barloworld’s Tour squad.

Corti said despite his frustration with Lampre and Gasparotto, he will continue to focus his efforts on securing support for the coming season.

“We’re working hard for 2009 and will continue to follow our principles of developing talented young riders and relaunching riders who have been forgotten,” Corti said. “That’s what we did with Gasparotto, even if some people seem to have a short memory.”