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Last Updated: Monday, 2 June, 2003, 17:28 GMT 18:28 UK
Cipollini denied Tour reprieve
Mario Cipollini
Cipollini is angry with Tour's organisers
Mario Cipollini's hopes of a late invitation into this year's Tour de France have been dashed by race organisers.

Cipollini's Domina Vacanze team were overlooked for a wildcard in favour of three French teams and a Basque outfit.

But they hoped Tour director Jean-Marie Leblanc would consider their plea to be added as an extra 23rd team.

"To accept a 23rd team in the Tour de France would go against the rule book of professional cycling," Tour organisers said in a statement.

"After a deep examination of the situation, it appears it would hamper the security of the race and the quality of the organisation to allow another team in."

The last four wild cards announced last month went to French teams Brioches La Boulangere, AG2r Prevoyance and Jean Delatour, plus the Basque team Euskaltel.

The Domina Vacanze team declined to comment at Leblanc's decision, although Cipollini was scathing after the initial announcement.

"Jean-Marie Leblanc makes me want to vomit," he said in the middle of the Giro d'Italia, in which the world champion set a new record of six stage wins.

But Cipollini was later forced to pull out of the Giro after a bad crash and wrote to Leblanc asking him for a reprieve.

Cipollini has won 12 stages on the Tour and briefly held the overall leader's yellow jersey in 1993 and 1999, the last year he took part in the world's biggest cycling race.

He has never finished any of the seven Tours he has entered.

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