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Bennati out of Giro, Freire's status still undecided

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Daniele Bennati (Liquigas) didn't survive the final climb with the front group.

Daniele Bennati (Liquigas) didn't survive the final climb with the front group. (Image credit: Tim Van Wichelen)
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Oscar Freire (Rabobank) on the La Redoute ascent.

Oscar Freire (Rabobank) on the La Redoute ascent. (Image credit: Sirotti)

Liquigas-Doimo has been forced to juggle its Giro d'Italia roster again, with sprinter Daniel Bennati ruled out due to injury. As of Wednesday morning, it was still unknown as to whether Rabobank sprinter Oscar Freire will be able to participate in the Italian Grand Tour.

Bennati has withdrawn from the event due to a muscle injury, and will be replaced by Tiziano Dall'Antonia. The Italian team had already lost its captain, Franco Pellizotti, who finished second overall in the Giro last year. He was named by the International Cycling Union (UCI) on Monday as being suspected of breaching Anti-Doping regulations due to irregularities in his biological passport.

Rabobank's Oscar Freire is suffering from respiratory problems and remains in doubt for what would be his first appearance at the Giro. Various media reports Wednesday morning said that he had decided to withdraw from the race, but Rabobank indicated that the final decision had not yet been made.

“He goes to hospital this afternoon (Wednesday) and then we will decide,” team spokesman Luuc Eisenga told Cyclingnews.

If Freire is unable to ride, his place would be taken by first-year-pro Steven Kruijswijk.

Ag2R-La Mondiale has named Hubert Dupont to take the place of Tadej Valjavec in the Giro. The team suspended Valjavec after he too was named by the UCI as showing unusual blood profiles in his biological passport.

Dupont, 29, has ridden the Giro twice already, finishing 32nd overall in 2006 and 25th in 2007. On Sunday, he ended the Tour de Romandie in 21st place.

Cofidis has also made a change in its Giro line-up. Tristan Valentin is out with bronchitis, and will be replaced by Damien Monier. Monier, 29, previously rode the Giro in 2008.