Though officially Italy’s No 1 cyclist, Marco Pantani isn’t going to be part of Italy’s 12 man squad for the World Championship road race on Sunday.
Team manager Antonio Fusi refused to comment on why the Pirate is walking the plank, but though his Olympic road race form wasn’t exactly stunning the bald headed biker is also facing fresh allegations of doping.
After his previous drugs related bans and black cat related accidents his absence from the team is yet another blow to Pantani, and though he’s strongly asserting his innocence this time round the tiny climber’s future is looking uncertain.
In Pantani’s absence Michele Bartoli is the main focus of the teams hopes, but Francesco Casagrande and Davide Rebellin are also worth watching. The rest of the team line up is as follows;
Sergio Barbero, Paolo Bettini, Mirko Celestino, Danilo Di Luca, Gianni Faresin, Alessandro Petacchi, Luca Scinto, Gilberto Simoni, Denis Zanette, with Dario Firgo and Gabriele Missaglia on the subs bench.
With Armstrong already home resting for next season, Ullrich nursing his split lip and Spanish champion Galdeano out with injury, this leaves the starting line up without another star turn. At this rate we’re almost tempted to turn up with a selection of national jerseys and have a go ourselves if anyone else drops out.
Or perhaps we’d better just watch it on telly eh?