Italian race organizers unveil Pinocchio as world championships mascot

Race organizers of the 2013 world championships in Italy have unveiled Pinocchio as the official race mascot

ROME (AFP) — With cycling still reeling from the fallout of the Lance Armstrong doping scandal, organizers of next year’s UCI World Road Championships in Florence, Italy, have unveiled an unlikely mascot — Pinocchio.

With the UCI under increasing scrutiny over its handling of the Armstrong Affair, and as riders from that era open up about their doping pasts, the choice of the wooden, fictional character whose nose lengthens when he lies is, from some perspectives, potentially ironic.

Race organizers, however, see otherwise.

“Ours is a Pinocchio connected to his origins, happy, athletic and attentive,” according to the official website of the 2013 world championships. “He is looking at the horizon, expressing an optimistic attitude versus the future. The expression of his face is smiling, happy, positive and at the same time astonished.”

Race organizers added, “Our Pinocchio is happy that his land, Tuscany, has been chosen to host the world championships of cycling. The outline is athletic and slim like a real rider.”