Shortly after the list of participating teams in the next Giro d'Italia was issued, race boss Carmine Castellano had a chat with journalists of the "Gazzetta dello Sport" paper, and expressed his point of view. The Neapolitan lawyer heading the Tour of Italy organizing crew defended his decision to reduce the number of participating teams to just 20 "it was an "experiment" we made last year, and we saw that it actually offers major guarantees in terms of security and "race combativity", and even on the logistical side, such that we decided to extend it also to Tirreno-Adriatico and Giro della Provincia di Lucca (both races organized by the Castellano-led RCS Society - btw)".
Mr.Castellano defended also the team selection made by the RCS & Gazzetta dello Sport organizers, even if it prompted reactions and protests from the excluded teams, like the newly-formed LPR-Piacenza Management, an Italian squad whose first participation in a Grand Tour would be much of help to. But Castellano was quite outspoken about that: "other teams (he didn't name names) asked for a spot in the Giro, but we didn't regard them as technically good enough".
When asked to give a "technical opinion" on how strong the starting field might be, the man was not so outspoken though: "There's a possibility that the race may draw a top-quality field, but it's too early to tell, as so far we just know the team names, but not those of the riders".
One thing's for sure anyway: Castellano was surprised (and disappointed) by T-Mobile's and Liberty Seguros' choice to skip this year's Tour of Italy. In his opinion the two powerhouses, that will have to race all three Grand Tours since 2005, according to the new Pro Tour rules, wasted the opportunity to make a first "test" to know what racing Giro, TdF and Vuelta in the same season is like. He sounded particularly disappointed by T-Mobile's decision: "The former Telekom is a very strong team, with lots of excellent riders, among them past Giro winner Paolo Savoldelli as well as podium finisher Giuseppe Guerini. They could field a strong squad for the Tour -which rightly is their number one target of the season- to support Ullrich, but at the same time send a solid team here too".
The 2004 Giro d'Italia participating teams are:
- Acqua e Sapone-Caffé Mokambo (Ita)
- Alessio-Bianchi (Ita)
- Chocolat Jacques-Wincor-Nixdorf (Bel)
- Colombia-Selle Italia (Col)
- Comunitat Valenciana-Kelme (Spa)
- De Nardi (Ita)
- Domina Vacanze (Ita)
- Fassa Bortolo (Ita)
- FDJeux.com (Fra)
- Formaggi Pinzolo Fiavé-Ciarrocchi Immobiliare (Ita)
- Gerolsteiner (Ger)
- Lampre (Ita)
- Landbouwkrediet-Colnago (Bel)
- Lotto-Domo (Bel)
- Panaria-Margres (Ita)
- Phonak Hearing Systems (Swi)
- Saunier Duval-Prodir (Spa)
- Team Saeco (Ita)
- Tenax (Ita)
- Vini Caldirola-Nobili Rubinetterie (Ita)
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