Managers of the four ProTour teams excluded from the Giro d’Italia are still in disbelief. Citing a selection process based on “ethics and quality,” Giro organizer RCS told Astana, Bouygues Telecom, Crédit Agricole and High Road they were not invited to the May 10 – June 1 event.
While decision seems partly based on doping controversy from the 2007 season — Astana and High Road (formerly T-Mobile) certainly experienced their share — the motivation to shut out Bouygues Telecom and Crédit Agricole is less clear.
Crédit Agricole manager Roger Legeay has been a vocal opponent of doping in cycling for some time.
“What do you expect me to do about it? The organizers are free to choose whoever they want and they obviously believe it will be better without us,” Legeay said, adding that he feared RCS would also exclude his French squad from Milan-San Remo and Tirreno-Adriatico, races it also organizes.
Giro organizers also seem to be punishing teams for their prior lack of commitment to the Italian stage race.
“[Alberto] Contador has always said that all he is interested in is the Tour de France, and for [Levi] Leipheimer, the Giro has always been about trying to prepare for the Tour,” Giro chief Angelo Zomegnan told Gazzetta dello Sport Saturday. “If our race is not part of their plans, then we just won’t invite them.”
Astana team manager Johan Bruyneel has tried to contact Zomegnan to find out why his team has been left out, according to Astana press officer Philippe Maertens.
“We don’t understand the logic of this decision, especially as everything is in order in our team,” said Maertens. “I don’t think there’s another team that carries out as many [anti-doping] controls as we do.”
Jean-René Bernaudeau, manager of the French ProTour team Bouygues Telecom, has minimized the non-selection of his team for the 2008 Giro d’Italia, saying it’s “far from being a catastrophe.”
“This decision is surprising but far from being a catastrophe for us. We will review our program. Suddenly we have more races in which we can shine,” he told AFP.
High Road team manager Bob Stapleton could not immediately be reached for comment.
In the place of the excluded four ProTour teams, the Giro invited four smaller Italian squads.
AFP contributed to this report.