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.
Our official grumpy Northerner, John has been riding bikes for over 30 years since discovering as an uncoordinated teen that a sport could be fun if it didn't require you to catch a ball or get in the way of a hulking prop forward.
Road touring was followed by mountain biking and a career racing in the mud that was as brief as it was unsuccessful.
Somewhere along the line came the discovery that he could string a few words together, followed by the even more remarkable discovery that people were mug enough to pay for this rather than expecting him to do an honest day's work. He's pretty certain he's worked for even more bike publications than Mat Brett.
The inevitable 30-something MAMIL transition saw him shift to skinny tyres and these days he lives in Cambridge where the lack of hills is more than made up for by the headwinds.