Thursday, July 26, 2007

no Yellow Jersey in Tour today

Oh Gawd. The Rabobank cycling team kept Michael Rasmussen in the Yellow Jersey for a week. A huge, crushing, self-destroying effort by all, but particularly by Denis Menchov, the man whom they expected to have the best chance for a podium finish in the Tour. {Update: Denis Menchov abandoned the Tour half-way through today's stage. No details yet on reason for his withdrawal.}

And now Rasmussen has been ejected from the team and pulled from the Tour. A press release from Rabo explains. See below.

Rasmussen is not the only presumptive druggie ejected. A pre-race favorite and hero of the individual time trial, Alexandre Vinikourov, was removed a few days ago. This, of course, on top of prohibition of many riders from participating in the Tour at all.

There's lots of coverage of this tragedy. Here are some links.
Leader Rasmussen pulled from Tour -- BBC
Reeling Tour de France hits the road again -- Reuters
Rabobank riders to stay in Tour de France -- Cyclingpost
Prudhomme: The Tour is better off without Rasmussen -- Velonews

Here's the Rabo press release:
Cycling team withdraws Rasmussen from Tour

Rabobank is shocked and disappointed of the fact that Michael Rasmussen gave false information in regards to his whereabouts. Apparently he did not stay at the address that he reported to the UCI and he did not send the report in a timely manner.

UCI has issued a rightful warning to Rasmussen for this delayed provision of information. As to giving false information in regards to his whereabouts is a flagrant violation of the UCI rules and therefore is unacceptable. Rabobank supports the decision of the Rabo Cycling team to pull Rasmussen out of the competition and to immediately dismiss him from the team.

Rabobank understands how this has affected the morale of the team that they are not able to decide whether they will continue with the Tour tomorrow. This is a black day in the history of the Rabo Cycling Promotions Programme. Rabobank has no plan to withdraw from its role as a sponsor to the cycling sport. They are now discussing the situation.

Piet van Schijndel, Member of the Executive Board responsible for the Rabo Cycling Promotions Programme was appalled by this new development. “I thought we have gone through the worst when dealing with all the warnings from UCI, it was of course very unpleasant but now I really don’t know what to say. I can’t think of any word to describe it. A nightmare. It is such a wonderful sport and the team has worked so hard and now this. The team leaders have done the right thing. I completely support their decision. I have a lot of respect for the team and understand their disappointment. We will first discuss on how to take things further, but one thing is for sure that Rabobank will remain as a sponsor of the cycling sport, in its broadest sense.”

Rabobank Head of Sponsoring is also stunned, “A black day. I feel so powerless and actually very angry. The team has worked so hard, as well as all the people who work in the bank’s sponsoring department and they are treated in such a shameful manner by the team’s foreman. I feel very badly for Michael Boogerd that he has to endure such a thing in his last Tour. This is such a big disappointment to Rabobank. We were busy organising a celebration party, in case that we reach Paris with the yellow jersey. This is not the way it’s supposed to be. I find this very sad and unfair and does not deserve to be part of Rabobank.”


GobberGo said...

Confound it!! What's a guy gotta do to maintain a healthy admiration for an athlete!!

Not actually all that surprised about Vinikourov: I mean, when you win two stages after getting dozens of stitches and suffering as much as he seemed to, you gotta wonder...

I smell a rat with the Rasmussen debacle though. At least, I'm not satisfied with the coverage thusfar. I want details of how they know he lied, and why it took them so long to make this decision. I don't like it.

Jeff said...

Could be Rasmussen can explain all and that he'll eventually be cleared. Rabobank says he was evasive when confronted with evidence of his failure to give correct information about his whereabouts and his failure to show up for two drug tests. On the other hand, Rasmussen just told the Guardian he's innocent; that he was in Mexico; that it can't be proved he was in Italy.,,2135326,00.html