The director of the Giro d'Italia Angelo Zomegnan used three, carefully selected, numbers to describe the 2011 Giro d'Italia but refuted criticism that this year's was too hard and claimed he was happy to see Alberto Contador win the Giro despite his ongoing appeal after his Clenbuterol positive at the 2010 Tour de France.
"I think the best way to sum up the Giro is with some numbers: 108 (Wouter Weylandt), 181 (Alberto Contador), the best rider in the world, and then 11 million people along the roadside: an impressive audience for the Giro," Zomegnan said after the finish in Milan.
Italian newspaper Tuttosport has speculated that Zomegnan's role at RCS sport may be under review after the difficulty of the Giro route turned the final week into a battle of survival for many riders in the peloton.
They can stay at home if they prefer,” Zomegnan said in reply.
“Why can people think the Giro was too hard? In the last week, we had two young riders who won ─ Ulissi and Capecchi ─ and they did the first two hours at 50kph. Maybe the Giro's not hard enough….”
Yet Zomegnan admitted that he was ready to listen to constructive criticism and hinted that the 2012 may be easier.
"The big difference between this Giro and other editions is that there were more mountain finish rather than on descents. But that's only an extra effort of ten minutes. The Giro without mountain finishes wouldn't be same."
“There are a lot of things to change. We had a lot of obligations this year because it was the 150th anniversary of the unification of Italy. We had to go to a lot of regions – 17 ─ that was too many. We put the riders and the race caravan to travel under extra stress because we forced them to travel a lot more. But on the sporting side, I have nothing to regret."
In defence of Contador
Alberto Contador raised the Giro d'Italia winner trophy in the shadow of the Milan Duomo on Sunday but his presence in the race, while awaiting the verdict of the Court of Arbitration for Sport, race divided opinions. He also humiliated the leading Italian riders and dominated the racing. But Zomegnan refuted any doubts about Contador's right to race while awaiting to hear if he will banned for doping.
"I am happy to see Contador win. In my opinion, it’s good for cycling, not just the Giro. The people are interested in him. He isn't boring,” Zomegnan said.
"I don’t think anybody would agree with the idea that we have a positive case in July 2010 but we have to wait till September 2011 before knowing the decision about the case. That's the problem. In the past the sporting justice system was always faster than the ordinary justice system. Now it's the opposite."
"I hope that in one week when we get all the (anti-doping test) results, the Giro will be clean. Right now, I cannot say because I have no reference. But I hope the Giro is cleaner than in the past. I hope the fans can believe in the Giro.”