He may have had the night to sleep on it but Patrick Lefevere’s anger at the events that transpired on stage 16 of the Giro d’Italia show no sign of dissipating, with the Omega Pharma-QuickStep boss calling for race organiser Mauro Vegni to "go home" and resign after Rigoberto Urán lost the maglia rosa to Nairo Quintana.
Confusion reigned down on the Giro d’Italia as the race climbed the Stelvio in atrocious conditions on stage 16. With snow and rain making conditions dangerous for the peloton a call from the race radio indicated that the race would be neutralized on the descent.
A number of riders subsequently stopped on the summit of the climb, however a group of riders pushed on, or at the very least didn’t stop, and by the foot of the descent a break including Nairo Quintana, Pierre Rolland, and Ryder Hesjedal had a significant gap on the maglia rosa group.
“As more time passes more of the pieces in the jigsaw fall into place and we start to find out what happened,” Lefevere told Cyclingnews on Wednesday morning.
“Remember San Remo last year, the Giro last year, and now yesterday. Mr Vegni should go home. For me he should resign. He’s not from this cycling any more. He doesn’t care about the riders. This isn’t the first time, it’s always him. I pay the riders, not him and I had a few million Euros riding around and they give us shit, 60,000 to ride the race. We put a lot into riding that race.”
“The men in charge are the race organisers, not the UCI commissars and we have proof that on the top of the Stelvio the radio said there would be motorbikes with flags and that no risks would be taken and that at the end of the descent every group could start with the gaps they had at the top. Then afterwards the Giro d’Italia removed their Tweet about the neutralization. Then, and how can you be more of a coward than this, they put the guilt on the man from radio. It’s wasn’t his decision. I think they just changed their minds because they were happy that Quintana, Hesjedal and Rolland were in a break and it was nice for the Giro.”
“That’s not how you should manage a race. If you say something you don’t step backwards after you’ve said it. Call Riis, call Guercilena, call Martinelli, and others. They were all upset because their riders were stopping on the Stelvio, changing clothes because of the things that were said.”
Lefevere’s frustration and anger wasn’t just directed at the race organisers who have subsequently issued a further statement in which they claim that neutralization was never confirmed.
“If you’re a Formula One driver and you pass the safety car then you’re automatically out of the race. A red flag is a red flag. It means that you don’t start racing before the flag is down,” Lefevere added.
“No one can say they didn’t understand. We’ve all known Mr Eusebio Unzué for a long time. He never says yes he never says no and he’s not the most honest man.”
Asked if he blamed race organiser Vegni for the situation, Lefevere handed out stinging criticism.
“He’s even worse because he did something like this last year. The Giro hasn’t been stolen from us, but the pink jersey has. It’s not about whether Quintana is the best climber it’s about principles. Urán might have lost the jersey, he might have lost it later in the race. Cycling wants to become a big sport but it’s never going to become a big sport if it’s run like this.”
“I saw a photo of Swift in the middle of no where, just standing there. Riders were crashing and I heard that Petacchi hit a car on the descent. He’s 40 year’s old and he’s had enough. We only see the break but we don’t see the misery at the back.”