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By VeloNews Interactive Wire Services, Copyright AFP 2001
The Giro d’Italia remains the top priority for Italian cyclist Marco Pantani despite his withdrawal from the Tour of the Basque Country this week. Pantani met his Mercatone Uno team president Felice Gimondi and team manager Giuseppe Martinelli Wednesday to discuss his preparation for the Giro, but is yet to define a clearcut program.
Martinelli said. “Before long we will define a specific list of races he will take part in April and May that will be suited to his technical characteristics and his state of health at the moment.”
Martinelli hinted that the rider would next enter the Settimana Lombarda (April 18-22) in northern Italy. That would rule him out of the Fleche Wallon (April 18) and Liege-Bastogne-Liege (April 22), both Belgian events that are run by the Tour de France organizing committee.
With Pantani’s team not yet invited to this year’s Tour, it would not help his case to snub those races.
Pantani withdrew from the Tour of the Basque Country, according to his team, because of a bronchitis problem on the same weekend that his Mercatone Uno team-mate Fabiano Fontanelli was thrown out of the Tour of Flanders for returning an abnormal hematocrit reading.
The Fontanelli incident has also jeopardized a possible invitation for Mercatone Uno to the Tour of France, whose organizers only last week unveiled new measures in its bid to crack down on doping.
VeloNews Interactive Wire Services
Copyright AFP 2001