Acqua & Sapone captain accuses organisers of chasing money with wildcards
Stefano Garzelli, winner of the 2000 Giro d'Italia and last year's mountains classification winner, is considering ending his racing career after his Acqua & Sapone team was denied a wildcard entry into this year's Italian Grand Tour.
RCS Sport today announced that, in addition to the 2012 ProTeams, Italian Professional Continental squads Farnese Vini-Selle Italia, Colnago-CSF Inox and Androni Giocattoli and the German Team NetApp were awarded invitations to complete the 22-team peloton at the Giro d'Italia.
While Acqua & Sapone was invited to the organisers other events, Tirreno-Adriatico, Milan-San Remo, and Il Lombardia, the exclusion of his team from the Giro d'Italia could be the final straw of his 16-year professional career.
"I am saddened and disappointed by this news," Garzelli wrote on his personal website, "and at this point I am seriously considering the idea of ending my career here.
"When the money has the upper hand over sporting merit, and over someone who has been a protagonist for 15 years of joys, sweat and suffering, putting on a show for the fans, but also for the organizers, and none of this is taken into account - it means that it's time to stop neglecting my family.
"In a month my wife will make me a father for the fourth time and without important goals to be achieved, where can I find the motivation to train, go to camp and spend time away from them when, in the end, you find yourself without the possibility of trying to achieve those results for which you have made so many sacrifices?"
Garzelli revealed that he had planned to retire after racing one last Giro d'Italia, and had hoped to win a 10th stage or another green mountains classification jersey, and that he was prepared to give his best for his final race. He had hoped to pass his knowledge onto his young teammate Carlos Betancur.
"I know that for a few years I haven't been competitive in the general classification, but in recent editions I have always made a mark, winning an important stage as in 2010 or winning the two green jerseys in 2009 and 2011. This has made me incredibly happy and proud because I think I've exceeded all expectations."
The lack of an invitation to the home tour might not just be the end for Garzelli's career, but also for his entire team, as owners Enio and Nando Barbarossa expressed their anger at the decision to Il Pescara. "If this is the case, after twelve years, perhaps the time has arrived to leave cycling," Enio Barbarossa said. "It's a decision that forces us to seriously think about saying farewell."
RCS Sport managing director Michele Acquarone responded to criticism of the choices of the five-person panel, stating via Twitter that they tried to reward commitment. "As I already said it's a hard choice: 12 requests for 4 wildcards: 4 teams happy and 8 unhappy, 1/3 fans happy and 2/3 unhappy."
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