By Jean-François Quénet in Verona
Danilo Di Luca expressed his desire to share the final podium in Milan with Gilberto Simoni along with Andy Schleck earlier this week, but instead, he will stand above another of his former team-mates at Saeco - Eddy Mazzoleni. Mazzoleni unseated Simoni in the stage 20 time trial, putting 2'08 into the Saunier Duval rider to step up to third place behind Schleck.
Sharing the podium with a third year pro and a domestique might seem less prestigious, but it makes sense in a Giro where the over-30 helpers have become the stars: Marco Pinotti and Andrea Noè wore the pink jersey, and Marzio Bruseghin was the winner of the time trial in Oropa and 8th in the overall classification.
Recently, Mazzoleni was more known for being engaged to Elisa Basso, Ivan's sister, who was present today on piazza Bra nearby the arenas of Verona. During the Giro, Mazzoleni's name has been mentioned a few times because of his implication in two drugs inquiries. One dates back to a 2004 wiretapping alleged to contain a conversation between Mazzoleni and Dr. Carlo Santuccione regarding the use of EPO. The case was revived this week when Ettore Torri, the magistrate of the CONI, received the file on the so-called 'Oil for Drugs' affair, but for now, he's not officially under avviso di garanzia, so the code of conduct of the ProTour teams who must sideline from any competition their members under investigation doesn't apply to him.
Unless anything new comes out, Mazzoleni will likely be able to ride the Tour de France, where he will go back to his domestique role. "I think I deserve to finish 3rd of the Giro,"" he said. For many years I have demonstrated to be a good rider, and this time I was maybe even a bit stronger. I thank Paolo Savoldelli for having given me the go. I've been able to profit from the occasion that was given to me to play my own cards. Today in the time trial I could feel I was going strongly. I don't know if I could have passed Andy Schleck on GC as well, but I didn't want to risk too much."
Mazzoleni will now take it easy a bit. "I have one month to recover from these efforts, then I'll go to the Tour de France to help Vinokourov and Klöden. I hope we'll come back with the win. I've always worked for the others apart from this Giro, and I will carry on with my job as a gregario."