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Lance Armstrong bought race win, Italian cyclist says

Dec 13, 2013, 9:24 AM EDT

Lance Armstrong AP

An Italian cyclist said Lance Armstrong gave him $100,000 as part of an agreement to let Armstrong win a race 20 years ago.

“It was a young American colleague,” said Roberto Gaggioli, according to Agence France-Presse translating comments in Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera. “He offered me a panettone [a traditional Italian Christmas cake] as a present and wished me a merry Christmas. In the box there were $100,000 in small bills. That colleague was Lance Armstrong.”

The payment was for the 1993 Thrift Drug Triple Crown. Armstrong, then a 21-year-old rookie, won all three races over 21 days and a $1 million prize, at the time the richest prize in the history of cycling, according to USA Today.

Gaggioli said the payment decided Armstrong would win the final leg of the triple crown, the CoreStates USPRO Cycling Championship in Philadelphia. Armstrong was riding for the Motorola Cycling Team at the time.

“Lance said that my team, Coors Light, had agreed to it,” Gaggioli said, according to the report. “I understood that it had all been decided.”

The Italian is not the first Coors Light team cyclist to say Armstrong’s triple crown win was pre-determined.

New Zealand’s Stephen Swart gave a sworn deposition in January 2006 that Armstrong and another Motorola teammate offered him $50,000 to help fix the triple crown series during the second of the three races, which lasted five days. This was according to ABC in Australia.

Swart later joined Armstrong’s Motorola team.

The Italian newspaper added that another cyclist said he was offered money to let Armstrong win.

Angelo Canzonieri and Lance agreed on a fee of 50, Angelo thought he meant dollars but Lance meant lire,” Roberto Pelliconi said. “At the Tour of Lombardy he gave us 50 million (lire).”

Armstrong won in Philadelphia by successfully attacking Canzonieri, Pelliconi and three others on a late climb.

“This is definitely the highlight of my career and probably my life,” Armstrong reportedly said after winning.

In 1993, Armstrong said he valued the honor won of being able to wear a stars-and-stripes jersey as the U.S. champion in European races over the $1 million.

“This is great for Lance Armstrong and Motorola, but it’s even bigger for the sport of cycling,” Armstrong told USA Today in 1993. “Football fans and couch potatoes will watch basket weaving if there’s a million bucks on the line.”

Armstrong says he was ‘singled out’

  1. mogogo1 - Dec 13, 2013 at 1:57 PM

    These stories get pretty comical when one guy will admit to being dirty to try make another guy look dirty. Is his complaint 20 years later that he didn’t demand more than $100K? And while the money involved makes this story a possibility, kind of hard to imagine a rookie racer coming up with $100,000 in small bills all on his own. But if the teams and/or managers were involved (which seems more likely) why on earth would they be so dumb as to have the payoff involve both racers? That’s just monumentally stupid.

  2. witchrunner - Dec 13, 2013 at 2:51 PM

    OK, so by now everyone knows that the sport of cycling is of less than stellar integrity. The mantra “everyone is doing it” appears to be the case in cycling. But, cycling fans have known this for years and it doesn’t matter to them. At least they’ve all been playing on a level playing field, which is more than some sports can claim.

    But, what is with all these wimps? My advice to all athletes: Stop being wimps and coming across as crybabies. It doesn’t become you and no one will look on you more kindly for being a tattletale. If you feel the need to confess, then go to confession or a shrink.

    Funny thing is that there is no mention whether these guys were even a threat to beat Armstrong. Maybe it’s just a boast to claim that they were his equal, or close to it.

  3. powercorrupts2 - Dec 13, 2013 at 4:28 PM

    So this guy says he took $100K to not win a race that would have won him $1 million and lots of notoriety? And it happened 20 years ago but he hasn’t mentioned it until now and hasn’t won much since then. And the story doesn’t mention that team road racing is always “fixed”. It is the nature of the sport. The team decides who the stars will be and who the “mules” that help the stars win will be before every race except the time trials that are raced individually. It is a team as well as an individual sport. Duh!

    • mogogo1 - Dec 13, 2013 at 5:44 PM

      Actually, if I’m understanding it correctly, the Italian racer wouldn’t necessarily have won $1 million. Armstrong was in line for that amount if he won the series of races, so the Italian guy could have basically been the spoiler who cost Armstrong the money. At that basic level a payoff makes sense for both of them…provided the guy was a large enough threat for Armstrong to be willing to part with 10% of the overall prize he still wasn’t guaranteed to win. (These were large races, so you couldn’t pay off everybody.) It’s also unclear why a relatively unknown rookie racer would be the recipient of a fix like this. It was the biggest cash prize in cycling history up to that time, and the fix was put in for a rookie?

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