Garzelli Lives His Darkest Day
– Reported by Gazetta dello Sport –
The rider from Varese loses the pink jersey without a fight, stops at the finish line in Varazze and proclaims: “I don’t know what I’ll do Sunday”.
VARAZZE (Savona), 18 May 2002 – Stefano Garzelli’s race is a long, tiresome stomach ache. If not fully depressed, in the sensation of one who is locked behind a door that you can’t open no matter how hard you hit or kick. The captain of Mapei-Quick Step and ex pink jersey pedaled in the middle of the group during the 191 km run into Varazze, the sixth stage of the Giro, from Cuneo to Varazze, covered, protected and semi hidden in the middle of his companions, who have heard and are talking. A dark sky has covered him and others.
The news broke and the difficult and tiring marathon of almost 200 km was passed slowly, comforted a little by the applause, the encouraging eyes and the pats on the shoulder that the Veresian has said to have received from his friends and fans. With a sense of need he was convinced to pedal for 5 hours under the pouring rain and arrive at the finish line in Varazze, a little after the news broke of him returning a non-negative test at the dope controls that immediately followed the second stage one in Liege. He thought of returning home. “It was a strange and difficult day, all of my time spent on the bike was spent entirely in my head, I had time to reflect on what has happened and what could’ve happened”. He had a closed stomach from tension and stress, also from the press conference and the meeting with the riders managers and staff, in the morning he had only eaten a brioche and was either unable or unwilling to eat anything on the bike.
“I arrived in Varraze, and it was already much; tonight we will see what I will do tomorrow morning”, he said quietly. He watched a break with Heppner in it go up the road, at the start he was only 1:32 behind Garzelli, it seemed that he didn’t see anything. He rode across the finish line like a rider who spends all of the day in the middle of the group, no one could ask him to carry a heavier weight on his shoulders or his heart. “I hope only for serenity, and that after this better things may come”, he said before climbing into the team camper. Paolo Bettini stayed near by during the opening kilometers and insisted upon the taste of the people who applauded for his countryman and the warm reception they received in the group. “We didn’t say anything about what had happened, it would be useless to. In these cases one can only give courage and remain close together. For all of us this was a terrible day, but we have trust and believe that the situation will improve”.