Late last night Vini Fantini rider Mauro Santambrogio, currently serving a provisional suspension after a non-negative A-sample test for EPO during the Giro, broke a months’ long Twitter silence to send a chilling two-word message: “Goodbye world”.
Minutes later he responded to Bicisport journalist Enzo Vicennati: “I can’t take it any more.”
Alarmed, and no doubt aware of the psychological problems some athletes have historically suffered, Italian journalist Alessandra De Stefano tried to get in touch with Santambrogio by phone.
He wasn’t answering, but De Stefano eventually got a response by text.
Meanwhile Santambrogio was deluged with messages of support and good wishes via Twitter. Supporters from all over Italy and the world encouraged him to be strong and not to do anything to harm himself.
After a couple of hours, he tweeted: “I have to do it and I will do it to win this race. Thank you.”
The messages continued through the night as word spread that Santmbrogio was, in the words of Alessandra De Stefano “a man alone in the dark”.
This morning, Santambrogio tweeted: “I closed my eyes, I thought about everything I almost did an idiotic thing and I think I would have solved nothing at all, but only brought so much suffering to those around me and who love me.”
“I thank you all for helping me to reflect and saving me.”
Mauro Santambrogio won stage 14 of this year’s Giro d’Italia in dramatic style, attacking with race leader Vincenzo Nibali in appalling weather conditions. However, his A sample from stage one returned a non-negative finding for EPO and he was provisionally disqualified from the race and sacked by his team.
Santambrogio requested a B-sample analysis. The result has not been officially announced but in early September, La Gazzetta dello Sport reported that the B-sample analysis showed a lower level of EPO traces than is necessary to conclusively prove doping. If that’s the case, it would clear Santambrogio and he would be free to race again.
John has been writing about bikes and cycling for over 30 years since discovering that people were mug enough to pay him for it rather than expecting him to do an honest day's work.
He was heavily involved in the mountain bike boom of the late 1980s as a racer, team manager and race promoter, and that led to writing for Mountain Biking UK magazine shortly after its inception. He got the gig by phoning up the editor and telling him the magazine was rubbish and he could do better. Rather than telling him to get lost, MBUK editor Tym Manley called John’s bluff and the rest is history.
Since then he has worked on MTB Pro magazine and was editor of Maximum Mountain Bike and Australian Mountain Bike magazines, before switching to the web in 2000 to work for CyclingNews.com. Along with road.cc founder Tony Farrelly, John was on the launch team for BikeRadar.com and subsequently became editor in chief of Future Publishing’s group of cycling magazines and websites, including Cycling Plus, MBUK, What Mountain Bike and Procycling.
John has also written for Cyclist magazine, edited the BikeMagic website and was founding editor of TotalWomensCycling.com before handing over to someone far more representative of the site's main audience.
He joined road.cc in 2013. He lives in Cambridge where the lack of hills is more than made up for by the headwinds.