Breaking News!! – Astana Withdraws
Hot off the wire, hours after we posted this original story, Astana/Wurth’s fate is now sealed – No Start For You! here’s the official release:
ACTIVE BAY’S COMMUNIQUE (ASTANA WURTH TEAM)
In view of the content of the dossier sent for Spanish authorities, Active Bay has decided, in fulfillment of the Ethical Code signed between the UCI ProTour’s teams, to withdraw from the Tour de France those riders that appear in the above-mentioned dossier. This decision is adopted without prejudice of the respect to the right to the presumption of innocence of these riders and of that Active Bay will exercise the actions for the defense of his rights and those of his workers.
This measurement does not concern the team’s riders of the Tour de France that are not included in the dossier: Alexander Vinoukurov, Andrey Kashechkin, Carlos Barredo and Luis Leуn Sanchez.
Nevertheless, the retreat of the riders that appear in the above-mentioned dossier implies that the team of Tour of France will not rely on the minimal number of riders that the regulation of the UCI demands, for what the team will not be able to take the start tomorrow mornig in the Tour de France.
Madrid, on June 30 2006
Astana/Wurth: Should I Stay or Should I Go?
Posted June 30, 11:30AM PST
“Es indecision me molesta” – as the Clash would say. Whilst Ulrich, Sevilla, Mancebo, Menkov and Basso may be far from Strasbourg by now, the Astana/Wurth team are digging in and at 19.00 hours local time, the team’s management did not know if the squad would be riding or not; but have not given up hope that they will.
Astana ds Neil Stephens (l) and a team mechanic pose defiantly as they prep for tomorrow’s prologue. If you ask them – they’re starting.
The mechanics are busy preparing the team’s BH time trial machines in readiness for tomorrow’s prologue.
The team are staying at the beautiful Chateau de l’ike hotel some 10 kilometres from Strasburg city centre with team official and former Tour stage winner, Australian Neil Stephens still unsure as to whether or not his men will be rolling-down the prologue start-ramp or not.
Stephens told PEZ: ‘I don’t know what’s happening, the Court said that the Tour organisers can’t just ignore their decision to let us ride, but then the organisation said that we had couldn’t ride anyway because we have five men on the list [the list of riders allegedly implicated in drugs raid, Operacion Puerto] and you must have five riders to start [the Tour is for nine rider teams, the loss of the five – Paulinho, Nozal, Davis, Contador and Beloki would leave the squad with only four starters].
For now, the Astana buses are parked and ready to roll… to the race.
‘The thing is that we’re now hearing that the information they have against three of the guys isn’t very strong, and he,’ stabbing Alan Davis name on my Tour communiquй, ‘has been on to his lawyer about who he can sue. Trouble is, my wife has told the kids I’m coming home and they are all excited, but maybe I won’t be home now.’
Normally I would say that I think he will be going home, but in this crazy Tour – we’d better hold our breath until Saturday…