Bradley Wiggins Bob Stapleton

Bradley Wiggins and Mark Cavendish had planned to use the Giro d?Italia as a key part of their preparation for the Olympic Games.

Team High Road?s exclusion from the Italian grand tour looks to have thrown a spanner in the works, but Great Britain?s performance director Dave Brailsford is not panicking.

Brailsford said the pair would still arrive in Beijing in August in peak condition.

There is still a chance Angelo Zomegnan, the director of the Giro d?Italia, could include a 22nd team in the race, which runs from May 10 to June 1, setting up a battle between the two most likely candidates, High Road and Astana.

But Brailsford is preparing to put into a place an alternative plan.

?It?s a surprising decision,? said Brailsford of Friday?s announcement by the Giro d?Italia. ?From a performance point of view, Brad and Mark will still get the racing they need.

?It wouldn?t be Plan A if they don?t go to the Giro but we?re confident we can sit down with Bob Stapleton and the staff at High Road and come up with a solution.

?It?s not ideal but it?s not the end of the world. There?s plenty of other races they can do. The Giro was the ideal scenario but we?re not going to make a knee-jerk reaction. We will let the dust settle. It?s not 100 per cent clear how things will work out from here but we?ll sit down and talk with High Road.?

But with 29 riders on the High Road roster, competition for places in the other races in May and early June will be intense.

?Brad and Mark both have very good relations with the High Road staff and I?ve every confidence they will get what they need.?

It could be argued Wiggins needs less racing and can get into peak condition with a training plan but Cavendish?s super-competitive streak means he needs to race.

The prospect of going head to head with the likes of Alessandro Petacchi at the Giro gave focus to the first part of his year. Now he?ll hope to get selected for the Tour of Catalonia, a Spanish stage race in mid-May which at least offers a couple of sprinting opportunities.

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Alternative stage races
May 6-11 Four Days of Dunkirk
May 19-25 Tour of Catalonia
May 28-June 1 Bayern Rundfahrt
June 4-8 Tour of Luxembourg
June 4-8 Bicicleta Vasca
June 8-15 Dauphiné Libéré
June 14-22 Tour of Switzerland

With speculation that the team?s chickens have come home to roost after the doping controversy that dogged its previous incarnations, Deutsche Telekom and T-Mobile, Brailsford reiterated his support for the American owner, Bob Stapleton.

He took over from Olaf Ludwig after the Operacion Puerto scandal.

?I don?t think this decision by the Giro d?Italia can in any way be taken as a negative reflection on Bob,? said Brailsford.

?We have key members of our team at High Road and we are very confident that the team is run on a clean basis by very professional people.?

But the exclusion of High Road and Astana gave Brailsford a reminder that fostering good relations with race organisers is the key to having a successful British pro team in future. ?What would guarantee us places in the big races?? he asked. ?To have good personal relations with the people in charge at ASO, RCS and the UCI.?

PICTURE Bob Stapleton meets Bradley Wiggins.


Astana and High Road left out of Giro

Comment: Shocking decision by Giro organisers

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