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Never a Dull Moment

Posted by Bruce Hildenbrand Feb 13, 2008

On the eve of the America's premier stage race, the Amgen Tour of California

(AToC), the attention shifted across the great pond where Amaury Sports

Organization (ASO) who own the Tour de France announced that Team Astana,

which has defending Tour champion Alberto Contador on it's roster, would not

be invited to any ASO-organized events in 2008.  ASO's decision is in response

to the doping incident at the 2007 Tour which saw Alexandre Vinokourov testing

positive for blood boosting.

 

Hey, it's my blog and I say that decision sucks big time.  After a very rocky

2007 which saw other doping violations, the Team Astana sponsors basically

kicked out all team personnel and questionable riders.  On paper, the name may

be the same, but the squad and it's management are completely different.  If

the sport of cycling is going to move forward from its current state, the

sport's governing body, the UCI, and the race organizers have to be willing to

give riders and their teams second chances.

 

Look, we are dealing with people's jobs and careers here. Decisions like this

have to be made fairly and consistently.  Team Rabobank arguably brought the

most disgrace to the 2007 Tour.  When was the last time the yellow jersey was

bounced from the Grand Boucle?  Rabobank hasn't been excluded from all ASO

events.  It just doesn't make sense to me.  Clearly, this is going to be a hot

topic of discussion for a while.  What are your thoughts?

 

So what does this mean for the upcoming AToC?  Thankfully, the event

organizers, AEG, don't appear to have any hidden agendas so we are going to

have nine of the top European professional teams, including Astana, and eight

US Domestic squads (well, Slipstream and BMC have European racing schedules)

putting on one heck of a show.

 

Defending 2007 AToC champion and Tour podium finisher, Levi Leipheimer is on

Team Astana.  If he and his mates are shut out of the biggest races in Europe,

that leaves the AToC to make a statement.  Personally, I hope that ASO see the

flaw in their logic (it's so big it is hard not to notice) and invites, Levi

and Alberto to the big show.  But, part of me likes the fact that Leipheimer

will undoubtedly be racing with a rather large chip on his shoulder at the

Tour of California because the guy has the legs and lungs to lay down a very

powerful statement.

 

Bruce

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