Italian can't understand Bettini
By Shane Stokes in Potenza, Italy
After much criticism from riders regarding the length of the transfers in this year's Giro, it was announced on Wednesday that the sixth stage will be shortened through the elimination of the finishing circuit. This will bring the race distance down from 265 kilometres to 231.6 kilometres, with the stage otherwise remaining the same and ending in Peschici.
According to maglia rosa Franco Pellizotti (Liquigas), Robbie McEwen (Silence-Lotto) was the main driving force behind the approach to race director Angelo Zomegnan. "It's McEwen who wanted to speak with Zomegnan about it," said Pellizotti. "I think it is normal [that something is done]. Even at 232 kilometres, it will still be a long stage.
"Today a lot of riders were very angry and wanted to do something," he added. "McEwen took the initiative and he spoke with Danilo Di Luca and with me, and then asked for it from Zomegnan. He said okay."
The race leader was impressed with the patron-like attitude shown by the pint-sized Australian. "I think McEwen is a symbol for cycling," said the Italian. "He decided himself he was the boss of the bunch, but everybody was okay with it because he is very respected and he is a champion."
However, there was one dissenting voice, that of dual world champion Paolo Bettini. Pellizotti said he doesn't understand the position taken by his compatriot. "The only one who was not in the same line was Bettini," he explained. "In the last few days he has been saying that things are normal and that things must be accepted. However Bettini was the only one thinking like that.
"It is strange, especially he is a powerful and important rider," he added. "But in the last year he took some strange decisions and we don't understand him much."
Team High Road rider Bradley Wiggins and Astana directeur sportif Sean Yates also commented on the matter on Wednesday [see separate stories]. They joined other competitors and staff that have spoken out about the conditions at this year's Giro, including Saunier Duval-Scott's team leader Riccardo Riccò.