Manny Saiz realized he doesn't have a captain for his team any more and announced that he is going to sign a "big name" star. Gosh, I didn't realize that so many big names were still unsigned. The one big name that comes to mind is Angel Casero -- who is allegedly on the verge of signing with Kelme -- which makes Alejandro Valverde a very unhappy young man. (The whole Kelme-Valverde-Casero story is another whole soap opera in itself!) So maybe Alejandro will end up signing with Liberty after all? But the question is, does he really qualify as a big name? My personal feeling is that Manny left it a little late in the year....
Well, of course there is one "big name" star who might be available: Marco Pantani. Although sine he has allegedly 20 kilos, maybe we should leave "name" out and just say "big" star.
He does have a knack for keeping his name in the news, though. The newest report is that Stayer is back in the scent (remember them?) and still wants to sponsor a team with Pantani on it, and most of his personal staff from Mercatone Uno coming, too. Even Papa Pantani has allegedly contributed to the speculation, saying it is still 50-50 as to whether his soun would ride again. The most important thing to remember in this whole story is that we still have not heard a single word from Pantani himself about his future plans and what he himself wants. I can imagine that it woulld be to the benefit of sponsor, sporting director, manager, and yes, even his father, if the continues to ride and capture the headlines. But he must decide what is right for him, not for others. He seems to have difficulty coping with the sometimes unbelievable problems associated with his career -- perhaps it would be best for him if he simply turned his back on it.
Problems of another sort came out of France recently, when a report suggested that Fabrice Salanson's doctors and/or team may have been aware that he had heart problems. Allegedly, and electrocardiogram showed irregularities, was even broken off because of concern for his health, and what did he receive as follow-up care? Nothing! He continued to race before his fatal heart attack 3 weeks later. The team says that no one told them not to let him race. Was there a total collapse of communication? Did everyone simply assume that everyone else knew? Or was there a conscious decision somewhere along the line that it wasn't so important, that nothing would happen.....
His parents not only had to suffer the sudden and unexpected loss the of their son, but had to put up with charges that his death was drug-related. They were able to put that behind them, only to be confronted now with the possibility that his death was totally unnecessary, that it in fact could have -- and should have -- been prevented. They have rightfully asked for an investigation. There are no doubt many doctors and team officials doing a great deal of soul-searching this holiday season.
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