Riders against half-stages in Giro

With the announcement of the 2006 route of the Giro d'Italia to be made on Saturday, news has apparently leaked out that there will be two stages on the final day: a mountain time trial in Varese and the finishing stage from Varese to Milan. Although unconfirmed, the Italian Professional Riders' Association (ACCPI) has already reacted to this possible scenario, taking a firm stance against it.

"We perfectly agree with the rules of the Union Cycliste Internationale forbidding half-stages in grand tours, especially in the last days of a race like the Giro d'Italia, at the end of a tough week," said the ACCPI's president Amedeo Colombo. "It is a serious matter that such a hypothesis hasn't been submitted to the opinion of the different exponents of cycling, first of all the riders. For the nth time we have to claim more consideration. In any case, we believe they could change their mind, considering the negative judgment already expressed by UCI and the position that we have taken up."

The organisation's secretary Gianni Bugno added, "We refer to the international rules shared by everybody, first of all athletes and organisations. If riders are urged to respect rules, organisations will have to do the same thing. We are surprised that this idea comes from RCS Sport that has professed to be in the front line for a more "human" cycling for a long time. This would be a Giro for supermen: four stages in Belgium, two so-called "rest days", that will be dedicated to as many demanding transfers, and this last invention of closing half-stages with the mountain time trial. I think that all is in contrast with the aspiration of cycling without excesses."

Belgian start

It's already known that the 2006 Giro will start on May 6 in Wallonia, Belgium, with a 6 km prologue time trial in Seraing. The first four days will also be run in this part of Belgium, where some 200,000 Italians live. Stage 1 will be from Mons-Charleroi to Marcinelle (in memory of the mining disaster there 50 years ago); stage 2 is from Perwez to Namur and stage 3 goes from Wanze to Hotton. The first rest day will be on May 10, while the riders transfer from Belgium to Italy, ready to begin the fourth stage in Liguria.

During the final week, the Giro will visit the Dolomites, with the infamous Mortirolo and Gavia passes (unofficially) on the agenda.

Cyclingnews will have a full report following the presentation of the 2006 Giro d'Italia in Milan on Saturday evening.

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