RCS, the organisers of Tirreno-Adriatico, Milan – San Remo and the Giro, have excluded ProTour team Unibet.com from all of their events this spring.
In the lists published late on Monday evening, RCS has split teams into three categories for their events: definite, the reserve list and wildcards. The name of Unibet.com does not figure amongst any of them, not even for races as relatively minor as Milan-Turin.
Already excluded from Paris-Nice and the Vuelta, RCS’s decision effectively wipes out Unibet.com?s possibilities of racing in any major Italian race in the first half of 2007. Nowhere on the communique does RCS offer an explanation for taking such a radical step.
The move will be seen as the latest phase of the conflict between the International Cycling Union (UCI) and the major Tour organisers over the ProTour. RCS, like Paris-Nice organisers ASO and Vuelta organisers Unipublic announced in late December that they were no longer part of the ProTour and would in future choose the teams they wanted in their races. The UCI completely oppose this move.
As a concession, RCS, ASO and Unipublic said those 18 squads which already formed part of the ProTour in 2006 and which were still in existence would have automatic selection for all their races in 2007. But Unibet.com only joined the ProTour late in the year and have, therefore, been excluded.
But the RCS communique on Monday now takes the UCI-race organisers conflict a step further, by saying that three prestigious ProTour squads – Rabobank, Gerolsteiner and Caisse D?Epargne – will not have their places in races like Milan-San Remo, Tirreno and the Giro guaranteed until February 16th.
Informed by CW of the RCS announcement, Rabobank manager Adri Van Houweligen said he was at a loss to explain why his squad did not get automatic selection.
?We won Tirreno-Adriatico last year with Thomas Dekker and Freire also got two stages, so it can?t be because of us sending a poor line-up there.? Van Houweligen said.
?It?s the first I?ve heard of it and it just doesn?t make sense it?s totally confusing. My guess is that this is all part of the UCI-race organisers conflict. We will just have to wait and see why on earth they did this.?
Tour of Italy 2007 team selection. In total there will be 22 teams, each with nine riders.
AG2R Prevoyance (Fra)
Bouygues Telecom (Fra)
Cofidis, le credit par telephone (Fra)
Credit Agricole (Fra)
Discovery Channel (Usa)
Française des Jeux (Fra)
Quick Step-Innergetic (Bel)
Saunier Duval-Prodir (Spa)
Team CSC (Dan)
Team Milram (Ita)
t-Mobile Team (Ger)
Reserves (Decision on February 16th)
Caisse d?Epargne (Spa)
Wildcards (Four of the eight teams listed to be selected on February 16th)
Acqua & Sapone-Caffè Mokambo (Ita)
Ceramica Flaminia (Ita)
Ceramica Panaria-Navigare (Irl)
Serramenti PVC Diquigiovanni-Selle Italia (Ven)
Team L.P.R. (Svi)
Tinkoff Credit System (Italy)