"After Operación Puerto I had thought to stop," quipped 26 year-old Michele Scarponi to La Gazzetta dello Sport after winning stage two of Coppi e Bartali. The Italian from Jesi (Le Marche) was one of the riders allegedly linked to the Spanish investigation stemming from the raids of Doctor Eufemiano Fuentes' offices and he has now been given a second lease on his racing career.
Early this year, he was signed to form a key-part of the Pro-Continental team Acqua & Sapone. Team Manager Palmiro Masciarelli said at the time, "I believe that Scarponi will be able to make important contributions at the Giro d'Italia, with him we will be even more competitive. ... His position is the [Operación Puerto] investigation is shelved. I have the documents from the Spanish investigators."
"I signed for Acqua & Sapone on February 20, and after Vuelta Murcia [fifth - ed.] and Tirreno-Adriatico [ninth] I am now here," he continued after yesterday's stage. He was part of an escape with Michael Rogers (T-Mobile) and Riccardo Riccò (Saunier Duval-Prodir), dropping them with 1600 metres to go and arriving solo for his first win of 2007.
"It was a difficult time," he continued to reflect on Operación Puerto. "I had thought to stop. The only good moment was when I was married with Anna, the most beautiful girl of the world. Then the storm passed and a period of calm returned; now there is sun."