It didn't take long for the judges to disqualify Giovanni Visconti from the win at the end of stage 17 in the Giro d'Italia. Belgian chief commissaire Thierry Diederen announced that the Italian champion was relegated to third place for irregular sprinting.
Visconti's directeur sportif Luca Scinto accepted the decision as his rider obviously didn't respect the rules of sprinting since he didn't keep his hands on his handlebar. "Visconti made a mistake but [Diego] Ulissi should have been disqualified as well and the win should have been given to Pablo Lastras," Scinto stated. "The rules clearly indicate that he's guilty but we're the moral winners of the stage. Visconti was the strongest."
A few minutes after the finish Visconti was furious, even before knowing that he'd been stripped of the stage win. "Ulissi has done his best to make me fall," the Italian champion said. "I yelled at him ten times but he blocked me on the barricades. Had I not used my hands, I would have crashed. He behaved badly in the group today and proved to be badly educated. From a young rider, it shouldn't happen."
Later the two Italian protagonists of the sprint were called up at the "Processo alla tappa" (the stage's court case) on RAI TV. It didn't end up like an episode of Jerry Springer as Ulissi and Visconti shook hands eventually, but Visconti maintained his point of view while watching the replay of the images. "He changed his line and not for just ten centimetres," the Italian champion commented. "He looked at me, I yelled, he knew he was slower than me."
Visconti justified having moved from the right hand side of the road to the left because the wind was blowing from the right. Talking about his several attempts at winning a stage in the Giro, a race he approached with an injured knee, he firmly said: "Today I've won, even if later the results will show that I'm third, but I've won."
Experts noted that Visconti was by far the strongest of the breakaway group. He was even the fastest. But it was also recalled that the same kind of incident happened at last year's Tour of Turkey when he already removed his right hand from his handlebar to protest against the way Elia Viviani from Liquigas won the sprint. That day in Antalya, Visconti declared: "He looked at me in the eyes before closing the door. He did it on purpose. It's a pity to see a young rider who came into the pro peloton to act like this." Later on, Visconti apologized to Viviani for he said. Scinto assured that the Sicilian wouldn't apologize to Ulissi this time around.
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