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Active Expert: Bruce Hildenbrand

2 Posts tagged with the astana tag

ASO announced the twenty teams for the 2008 Tour de France today and not surprisingly, Astana was not on the list. Coincidentally, the Tour of Georgia unveiled their start list for the late-April event and Rock Racing did not receive and invite. While I support the right of race organizers to invite whichever teams they choose, that doesn't mean I have to agree with them about their decisions. In both the aforementioned cases, I think the race organizers have erred in not inviting Astana to the Tour and Rock Racing to Georgia.


The Astana team with 2007 Tour winner Alberto Contador and third-place finisher Levi Leipheimer is clearly one of the strongest squads in the pro peloton and on the basis of strength alone deserve a slot. Keeping them out of the Tour means that all the best riders will not be on the starting line. It definitely devalues the 2008 yellow jersey. To be the best, you have to beat the best. Unfortunately, it appears that Astana's problems are probably linked to Johan Bruyneel and Lance Armstrong's seven Tour wins. It seems that ASO still feels that these two somehow pulled of all those victories in a less than honest matter.


Rock Racing was one of the most popular teams at the 2008 Amgen Tour of California. They had huge crowds at their team bus before and after each stage and their riders responded to the attention with Mario Cipollini taking third on Stage 2, Victor Hugo Pena climbing extremely well and Michael Creed aggressively going off the front on several occasions in an attempt to take a stage. However, Michael Ball tangled with race organizers over the exclusion of three riders, something which appeared to the public to be totally arbitrary. Clearly, Michael Ball marches to a different drummer, but judging by the number of fans and the demographic of those fans, his team is generating a lot of buzz about the sport of cycling.


I think to be fair and un-biased if you believe that Astana got a raw deal you also have to feel that Rock Racing was unjustly spurned.  Levi and the boys should be racing in France just as Fast Freddie and his crew should be on the start line in Georgia.  I still support a free market when it comes to races.  Organizers should be able to invite whomever they want though they should have some published criteria so teams have some indication on what they need to do to be considered. I just hope that they can be more fair and just when it comes to team selection.


What do you all think?



1,139 Views 4 Comments Permalink Tags: tour_de_france, bruce_hildenbrand, astana, rock_racing, michael_ball, lance_armstrong, tour_of_georgia, johan_bruyneel

I recently wrote about the split between the UCI and the grand tour organizers

enabling the bosses of the Tour de France, Giro d'Italia and Vuelta a Espana

free to invite any team they wanted to their races.  Well, the Giro d'Italia

announced its invited teams and judging by the prominent names left off the

list, the free market in cycling has arrived.


To be sure, before the inception of the UCI's Pro Tour, there was a free market

in professional cycling, but things were so bad during the Pro Tour, it seems

like a re-birth of the free market.  By free market, I mean the ability of the

individual races to determine which teams get to ride their events.  If the Tour

de France want to invite only amateur teams from the state of Rhode Island it is

now their choice to do so.  However, if the perceived quality of the race

suffers and fans go elsewhere then the Tour bosses only have themselves to



That may not seem so far-fetched.  Back in the early 80's, in some people's eyes

the Tour de France was getting boring.  So, in an attempt to add some excitement

to the race, the organizers extended invitations to several amateur teams

including those from the US, Russia and Colombia.  Only the Colombians came, but

it ushered in the era of the Colombian climber and the likes of Lucho Herrera

and Fabio Parra won stages and stood on the podium at the Tour.


That's how a free market works.  You develop a product. You market it. If people

like it.  They buy it.  That may seem to be a pretty simple formula, but it

isn't.  Yes, the race organizers can be totally arbitrary in which teams they

include, but for credibility sake, they need to be objective with the criteria

they will use for determining who will ride.  In this year's Giro, the

organizers excluded several teams including Astana and the former T-Mobile

Team, now called Team High Road Sports, because of concerns over doping.


Hey, that is their prerogative, but what about Michael Rasmussen's Rabobank

team and Team LPR which included Danillo DiLuca who is serving a three-month

suspension for a non-analytical doping offense?  That just doesn't make sense

to me.  Oh well, hopefully, saner heads will prevail at the organization

which runs the Tour de France and there will be no seemingly arbitrary decisions

about who will toe the starting line in July.



1,325 Views 5 Comments Permalink Tags: tour-de-france, bruce-hildenbrand, bruce_hildenbrand, giro-d'italia, uci, vuleta-a-espana, high-road-sports, astana