'Il Pirata' to Give Italian Championship a Miss

Published June 22nd, 2000 - 02:00 GMT

Italy's 1998 Tour de France and Tour of Italy champion Marco Pantani will not compete in the Italian championship in Trieste on Sunday, said the Champion’s team director on Wednesday. 

Giuseppe Martinelli, Pantani's Mercatone Uno team sporting director, felt the race was unsuitable for the 30-year-old nicknamed 'Il Pirata' (the Pirate) for his shaven head and colorful bandanas. 

"Marco is currently in training for the Tour de France with his teammates and he's decided not to divert his attention on such an easy course and totally inappropriate for someone of his ability," he said. 

However, Stefano Garzelli, Pantani's teammate and reigning Tour of Italy champion announced that he would be taking part in the race. 

Pantani returned to competitive cycling after an absence of several months at the recent Tour of Italy, finishing 28th and distinguishing himself in the mountain stages and playing a large part in helping Garzelli to win - (AFP) 

© 2000 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)

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