The head of Lampre has confirmed that his company will not cease its sponsorship of Lampre-ISD in spite of the team’s implication in the recently-concluded Mantova-based doping investigation.
Last week Tuttobiciweb.it reported that 13 past and present Lampre riders and staff could face charges following an investigation into the activities of pharmacist Guido Nigrelli, but Lampre head Mario Galbusera has reiterated his support for cycling.
“We love cycling,” Galbusera told Gazzetta dello Sport. “This is the sentiment that guides us. And then, there’s so much passion. Problems can happen. They are confronted and resolved so that you can start again better.”
Galbusera, who is also honorary president of the Lampre-ISD team, declined to comment on the specifics of the Mantova investigation, which is thought to be centred on alleged doping practices that took place in 2008 and 2009. Following the conclusion of the inquiry, 32 people are said to be facing charges, although the parties concerned have yet to receive formal notification.
“I can’t [comment on it]. I don’t know all the facts, I’m not aware of anything,” Galbusera said. “As soon as things are clear, we will evaluate case by case with extreme attention.”
According to recent reports in Gazzetta dello Sport, Lampre manager Giuseppe Saronni is to step down from his role if charges against him are formalised, with Roberto Damiani likely to replace him.
It is also understood that the team would then be built around young talents such as Diego Ulissi and Adriano Malori, who have not been implicated in the Mantova investigation. Damiani is currently directeur sportif at Omega Pharma-Lotto and a consultant at the Mapei Centre, where he works with some of Lampre’s young riders.
While Galbusera was reluctant to confirm the rumoured changes in management, labelling Saronni as being “a friend, indeed more than that,” he outlined that the team was already looking to rejuvenate its line-up.
“Every decision will be taken in agreement with Beppe [Saronni],” he said. “As for the idea of starting again with the youngsters, that was already put into place. It should have been [late Italian national team manager Franco] Ballerini who took care of that…”
Along with Liquigas-Cannondale, Lampre are one of just two Italian teams in the WorldTour, and Italian cycling is enduring a difficult period on and off the road. While the Mantova and Padova investigations cast a shadow over a number of riders on the eve of the Giro d’Italia, there has been little solace to be had from race results either.
Damiano Cunego, who is among the Lampre riders named in the Mantova investigation according to Tuttobiciweb.it, was the best-placed Italian at Sunday’s Amstel Gold Race, finishing a distant fifteenth. Cunego’s win in the 2008 Tour of Lombardy remains Italy’s last classic victory.