With the third consecutive Grand Tour winner falling under a cloud of suspicion, it's unsurprising to see sponsors and fans steer away from cycling. However, for some, whose lives revolve around the sport, it's not so easy to pull the pin. Nor do they want to, as Anthony Tan finds with South Australia.com-A.I.S. team manager Brian Stephens.
Even a month before, South Australia.com-Australian Institute of Sport team manager Brian Stephens wasn't sure whether to confirm their trip to the Baby Giro in early June. One of the most important races of the season for aspiring under 23 and under 26 riders, Stephens, brother of former professional Neil, saw his plans come to nought last year when the race was cancelled at the eleventh hour due to financial problems.
"This year, I had a few other options, because I wanted to make sure the boys had some racing to go to," Stephens said. "As it turned out, the race went ahead, it was well organised, the presentations were good, and it was a great race."
However, four days from the conclusion of the race, organisers Egidio Event issued a dire plea: "Il Giro Under 26 e Giro Donne rischiano di morire" (the Giro d'Italia U26 and Women's Giro risks dying).
"We cannot hide our will to supply a [greater financial] contribution to cycling, yet we are in a 'bloodbath' financially," said Mario Poli, executive general manager. "It is true, the technicalities did not allow a [potential] title sponsor after the budgets were closed, but it is equally true the media, and that of television in particular, should have offered greater [financial] consideration."