Rubens Bertogliati once wore the yellow jersey in the Tour de France in 2002, but his fortunes have not been great since last year's expulsion of his Saunier Duval team from the race, and the team's later dissolution. After months of unemployment, he will make his Grand Tour return in the Giro d'Italia on Saturday.
The Swiss rider was out of a job up until just weeks ago, but was picked up by the Diquigiovanni team. Manager Gianni Savio has added one more sponsor to his pool of partners: the painting company Sigma, previously known in cycling for backing the Belgian team Histor-Sigma of Stephen Roche and Luc Leblanc twenty years ago. "We've got no more space for new sponsors on our jerseys," Savio apologized.
Bertogliati had signed for the H2O Luxembourg-based team that was officially introduced by the manager Max Radoni at the world championships in Varese, but the team never took shape. "I had signed up for unemployment but fortunately after one week of being officially on the dole, I joined Diquigiovanni," the Swiss rider said.
The powerful time triallist who turned pro in 2000 with Lampre thought it would have been a pity to finish his career prematurely, but he'll celebrate his 30th birthday on the 9th of May by riding the inaugural team time trial of the Giro d'Italia.
"I'm very happy to be with this team," said Bertogliati who is openly a strong anti-doping campaigner and had one more choc when he heard about the A-sample positivity of his new team-mate Davide Rebellin. Diquigiovanni was not the employer of Rebellin at the time of the Beijing Olympics. "I still can't believe this story," Savio said. "We have suspended him until the B-sample analysis, which I hope to return negative."
Diquigiovanni is led at the Giro d'Italia by veteran Gilberto Simoni who is starting his 15th Giro at the age of 37, a race he won twice (in 2001 and 2003). The Tour de Langkawi winner José Serpa is Savio's secret weapon for the coming mountains.