May 20 2005
With arms fully extended, Alessandro Petacchi took the 12th stage of the 2005 Giro. Looking more like his old self, the gentleman sprinter cruised to victory over young gun Paride Grillo (not to be confused with “Il Grillo,” Paolo Bettini) and Isaac “podium” Galvez, whose claim to fame will continue to be crashing World Champion Cipollini out of the 2003 Giro until he finally manages to cross the line in first. Nowhere to be seen was pocket rocket Robbie McEwen, who was unable to insert himself into the silver train, and finished a distant sixth.
Though not first to finish, the speedy Australian was perhaps the first rider to leave, as Italian police whisked him off for questioning shortly after the finish. McEwen, who is slated to toss in the towel on this year’s Giro tomorrow, was questioned about his possible use of an altitude tent. McEwen, who was released without restraint following his questioning, brushed off his abduction, calling it “just another Italian investigation.” Not as lucky may be the Saunier-Duval team, who were “caught” with intravenous rehydration bags. Though containing no drugs, these bags are illegal under new WADA rules, which state such measures may only be used to treat illness. Whether or not WADA recognizes dehydration and exhaustion, common side effects of grand tours, as illnesses remains to be seen.