Thor Hushovd has been controversially left out of the Garmin-Cervélo squad for the Vuelta a España, with Irishman Dan Martin their main protected rider for the tour’s GC.
Hushovd’s name was on the preliminary roster for the tour, but he and his coach Alte Kvålsvoll informed Norweigan newspaper VG event earlier this week that he would not be riding in Spain.
“I am disappointed and surprised,” the Norweigan told VG. “It’s not the optimal preparation for the world championships.”
Kvålsvoll was more emphatic in his reaction: “It’s horrible,” he said. “You cannot do this to the world champion. It’s very strange that they do this.”
Hushovd will leave Garmin-Cervélo in 2012 and announced his move to BMC Racing on Wednesday. Hushovd’s departure will have disincentivised his inclusion, with providing experience for riders who will remain in the team more beneficial for them in the long run.
Garmin-Cervélo manager Jonathan Vaughters defended his decision as “best for the team.”
The decision will damage Hushovd’s preparations for defending his rainbow jersey, and he will be forced to race alternative events in the run-up to the world championships. One such event – the Tour of Britain – could be a possibility for him.
Martin to lead for overall
Team manager Vaughters has also revealed that, while he has not decided on the exact team for the race, it will be built around Dan Martin and Heinrich Haussler.
Speaking to Vélonews, he said “When you have a team as deep and talented as ours, roster decisions are very difficult. While our Vuelta team is not quite yet final, it’s going to be built around Dan Martin and Heinrich Haussler.”
Dan Martin will be provided with his first tilt at a Grand Tour general classification, while Haussler will be their protected rider for the flatter stages.
Martin showed that he is in good form last week, finishing second overall in the Tour of Poland. He was the strongest climber in that race, and was beaten by Peter Sagan (Liquigas) due to time bonuses rewarded to the Slovakian for placings on flatter stages. The Irishman also won the Giro della Toscana in late June.
Dan Martin wins stage 6 of the 2011 Tour of Poland last week