The Astana-Würth team is steadfastly continuing with its plans to ride the Tour de France, regardless of the ASO, the CAS, Operacion Puerto or anything else. The teams cars and buses set out yesterday, while the riders spent the night in Madrid before arriving in Strasbourg Wednesday in time for the scheduled medical tests, Spanish Eurosport reported.
One question, however, is which riders will be participating. According to the news story, the nine riders are Alexander Vinokourov, Andrey Kashechkin, Alberto Contador, Luis Leon Sanchez, Carlos Barredo, Isidro Nozal, Joseba Beloki, Allan Davis and Sergio Paulinho. It had previously been announced that Jörg Jaksche and Assan Bazayev would ride, instead of Barredo and Paulinho.
The team may be counting on outside help in its bid to participate. According to the International Herald Tribune, Kazakh rider Kashechkin, told L'Equipe that the president of Kazakhstan would be protesting the proposed exclusion to French President Jacques Chirac.
"This is going to become an affair of state," Kashechkin warned, citing no sources, and added. "There are some important French investments in our country," according to the IHT.
No team presentation
The team was refused participation in the Tour's team presentation, which is scheduled for Wednesday evening in Strasbourg. The Tour organisers are still against having the team in the race, but it will be up to the Court of Arbitration of Sport to decide whether it can race. A decision on that is expected on Friday at midday.
April 2, 2009 - Valverde indignant over possible suspension
April 1, 2009 - Valverde: Italy requests two-year suspension
March 13, 2009 - Le Monde newspaper hit with fine over Puerto allegations
March 2, 2009 - WADA president Fahey asks for Puerto evidence
February 24, 2009 - Spanish federation seeks access to Puerto blood bags
February 20, 2009 - CONI considers Valverde case while UCI awaits verdict
February 19, 2009 - Valverde under criminal investigation
February 11, 2009 - Valverde summonsed for Operación Puerto in Italy
February 8, 2009 - Eight charged in Operación Puerto