By Gregor Brown in Prato Nevoso
Barloworld manager Claudio Corti aims to continue the team he took over in 2006 despite title sponsor Barloworld pulling the plug following the failed doping test of Moisés Dueñas. "Barloworld does not want to be on the jersey anymore. They will not be on the jersey, but the organisation goes on," Corti told Cyclingnews Sunday morning in Embrun.
French Gendarmerie escorted Dueñas out of the Tour de France the morning after the rest day in Pau when information leaked of his positive test for Erythropoietin (EPO), stemming from a test taken at stage four's time trial in Cholet. "It is a problem with the sport, when this mess can be created by just one person," Corti said. "Yesterday he admitted that he organised it all alone with a Spanish doctor and paid 2000 euro."
Barloworld announced its departure as a sponsor Saturday. Following the Tour de France, it will no longer be on the team's jerseys or cars. "It is too bad because the team has always become better and better, both with its image and the riders' level," Corti added. "We will continue, and maybe even better."
The good news is Corti will have financial support for his riders through to the end of 2009. Barloworld will fulfil its contract in an action similar to T-Mobile last year where general manager Bob Stapleton continued the T-Mobile Team, known as High Road, until he found title sponsor Columbia prior to the 2008 Tour. "The situation is definitely not easy, but Barloworld does not want to stay," said Corti. "It will be a little like [High Road]. Of course, it is just talk now and we need to sit down at a table and work out the details. They recognise it is not a problem with the management of the team."
Chris Fisher, head of Barloworld corporate marketing, confirmed the South African company's support in the immediate future. "Discussions are underway for a replacement sponsor and we pledge our support to Claudio Corti. We will honour all of our contractual obligations," Fisher said to Cyclingnews at the start of stage 15. "It is a similar situation to High Road. Fortunately, there are a number of sponsors showing a good deal of interest. This is the event where all the serious parties that are interested in cycling are present."
The company was "saddened and angry" with the first failed test since it started sponsoring cycling, and Fisher explained it was one doping case too many for Barloworld. "Barloworld has always had a zero-tolerance policy towards doping. Through team Barloworld we promote the values of Barloworld - integrity, honesty, respect - and we have over the last five years made it clear to the riders that we cannot afford to have any of our riders positive."