Mario Cipollini has sparked controversy after he said in an interview with L’Equipe that Vincenzo Nibali should have offered Sergio Henao money in the closing moments of the Olympic road race to ensure he won gold medal.
Nibali escaped in the Olympic road race with Sergio Henao and Rafal Majka. On the final descent at 12 kilometres remaining, Nibali and Henao lost control and crashed. Belgian Greg Van Avermaet (BMC Racing) caught Majka in the closing kilometres and won.
“Van Avermaet was able to win because Vincenzo Nibali didn’t manage the finale well when he was with Majka and Henao,” said Cipollini.
“I could have understood him taking risks if he had been alone, to widen the gap, but not when he was halfway down the descent, in the trees, where the road was dark, damp and slippery. It would have sufficed to offer some money to Henao and things were sorted. For Henao, winning the [Olympic] games wouldn’t have made a huge difference.
“This kind of deal has always existed. It’s not the victory that it bought but collaboration. At Zolder, when I won, money was talked about with a team that had nothing to gain and that could be there for a reason. For $100,000, Henao could have looked after Majka, and Nibali would have returned to Italy with the gold medal around his neck. Compared to the pile of money he would have gathered later with other contracts, $100,000 isn’t much!”
In the London Olympics, some accused Alexandre Vinokourov paying Rigoberto Urán for the victory, who were riding that season for Astana and for Sky as their respective trade teams.
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