When the line-up of the 2008 Tour of Spain was announced this week the absence of High Road from the line-up of the 2008 Tour of Spain constituted the biggest surprise – but not because they weren?t there.
The team had already said the week before they would not be taking part in cycling?s third biggest stage race because of what team boss Bob Stapleton said was a ?lack of commitment from the organisers .? So we could see it coming.
But. then things got confusing this Tuesday. The Vuelta insisted in their communique that it had been the organisers, not the team, who had taken that decision not to take part in the Tour of Spain
Does it matter whether High Road jumped or were pushed? Certainly it seems to be worth investigating, given the contradictions the race organisers offer about the case.
The team had ?motivational problems? and did not ?answer quickly enough, refusing to give their line-up as quickly as the Vuelta had asked for,? Victor Cordero said.
Alleging lack of motivation is a odd argument considering High Road in their former guise, T-Mobile, were one of the few foreign teams to win more than one stage in last year?s Vuelta, one of them the most important time trial of the entire race. That doesn?t sound like they weren?t keen.
As for the line-up, which teams can honestly say in April, and even more so in an Olympic year, who will be racing in September?
Line-ups for the Vuelta have always been full of last-minute changes – unless you?re Spanish. High Road saying they weren?t sure who they?d send is being honest.
Cordero also explained that the teams had been selected first taking into account ethical criteria, secondly on sporting criteria and thirdly on motivational criteria.
Again, this doesn?t appear to add up, given that High Road are amongst the forerunners of the teams fighting against doping. And why not give Slipstream a chance to take part?
The Giro organisers initially rejected High Road, but then thought better of it. Will the Vuelta eventually do the same?
Teams for the Vuelta 2008
Ag2r – La Mondiale (FRA)
Andalucia-Caja Sur (ESP)
Bouygues Telecom (FRA)
Caisse d’Epargne (SPA)
Cofidis, le Credit Par Telephone (FRA)
Credit Agricole (FRA)
Euskaltel ? Euskadi (SPA)
Française Des Jeux (FRA)
Karpin Galicia (SPA)
Quick Step (BEL)
Saunier Duval ? Scott (SPA)
Tinkoff Credit Systems (ITA)
Team CSC (DEN)
Team Milram (GER)