Visconti’s stage wins overcome his post-ban depression

Italian sat out three months for working with Michele Ferrari on what he claimed was training, not doping

Photo: Graham Watson

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VICENZA, Italy (AFP) — Three-time Italian champion Giovanni Visconti (Movistar) said he had paid his dues for past doping indiscretions after notching his second stage win inside a week at the Giro d’Italia on Wednesday.

Visconti launched an ambitious attack 17 kilometer from the finish of the 214km stage between Caravaggio and Vicenza to finish 19 seconds ahead of the chasing peloton.

It was his second win during the 96th edition of the Giro after he climbed to victory on stage 15 when, due to adverse weather conditions, the race finished 4.2km short of the summit of the Col du Galibier in the French Alps.

Looking tired after his win — the Movistar team’s fourth on the race after Britain’s Alex Dowsett won the stage 8 time trial and Beñat Intxausti’s win on Tuesday — Visconti was also emotional as he described the recent “dark period” in his life.

At the end of last season, the 30-year-old Italian was among several riders suspended for collaborating with banned sports doctor Michele Ferrari — the man accused of doping Lance Armstrong and may other riders on the disgraced American’s U.S. Postal Service team.

The Italian Olympic Committee (CONI) banned athletes from working with Ferrari in 2002 and Visconti, like Lampre-Merida’s Filippo Pozzato and Michele Scarponi, was handed a three-month ban.

Although it ended in January, Visconti suffered from depression before beginning the new season hoping to re-build his battered reputation.

It is only now that he feels his career is taking off again, and he said he had learned his lesson.

“When you make a mistake, you pay, you close the chapter and talk about another,” said Visconti.

When asked what he had learned from his experience, he added: “When I look back, I see that you have to learn to trust your own means and have faith in yourself without looking elsewhere.”

Since the Armstrong revelations broke late last year, Ferrari has been handed a lifetime ban by the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency, which other top sports bodies are expected to follow and implement.

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