Tirreno-Adriatico organiser RCS Sport is upset after Chris Froome's last-minute withdrawal due to a chest infection
“I wrote to Sky’s team manager, David Brailsford,” RCS Sport Cycling Director Mauro Vegni told La Gazzetta dello Sport newspaper.
“I didn’t like that I had to find out the news about Froome’s withdrawal via various websites. At least they could’ve bothered to called me.
“In these years, we have certainly shown Sky more respect than what they have shown us. Unfortunately, our relationship is not as good as I thought it was.”
Sky explained that it has a process when evaluating riders for a race: the cyclist is in contact with the doctor, if the cyclist is unable to race then the team issues a statement and afterwards, the organiser is informed. The team added that it waited until the last minute not to upset the organiser, but for the hope that it could field Froome.
Froome announced via his Twitter account and then Sky’s website that he would have to miss the prestigious Italian stage race due to a chest infection.
“This is obviously frustrating after the good start that I’ve had to the season, but it’s a minor setback,” Froome said. “I’ve been ill for a few days now and unfortunately, I couldn’t shake it off in time for the race.”
Froome placed second in the 2013 Tirreno-Adriatico to Vincenzo Nibali (Astana). He briefly toyed with the idea of racing RCS Sport’s Giro d’Italia this year, which includes a 60-kilometre time trial, but gave his full attention to trying for a second Tour de France title.
Froome made his 2015 debut last month with the overall win in Spain’s Ruta del Sol stage race ahead of Alberto Contador (Tinkoff-Saxo). His health is good enough to allow him to already plan ahead. He said that the Volta a Catalunya, March 23 to 29, will be his second and next race of 2015.
Calling off Tirreno-Adriatico, however, means Froome could likely pass the year without racing in Italy and in one of RCS Sport’s races.
Froome already axed two other RCS Sport races from his calendar in the final hours. In 2013, he skipped the Giro di Lombardia and in 2014, the Tirreno-Adriatico stage race – both due to back problems. Last year at the last moment, he also pulled the plug on Liège-Bastogne-Liège – run by Tour de France organiser ASO – due to a chest cold.
The Tirreno-Adriatico incident yesterday is not the first time that Sky has upset a race organiser. Last year, the team pulled Richie Porte from the Paris-Nice line up to replace an absentee Froome in Tirreno-Adriatico. It may have pleased RCS Sport, but Paris-Nice organiser ASO was left frowning. ASO’s Christian Prudhomme said, “We find it cavalier to have the reigning champion [Porte] pull out just before the start.”