Volodymyr Bileka has resigned from Silence-Lotto "for personal reasons", the team announced late Monday night. He faxed his resignation to General Manager Geert Coeman on Saturday, May 3, and the team has sent it on to the International Cycling Union (UCI).
The 29 year-old turned pro in 2003 with Landbouwkrediet-Colnago, and rode for Discovery Channel from 2005 to 2007. This season he signed with Silence-Lotto together with his compatriot and friend Yaroslav Popovych. The Ukrainian had been scheduled to ride the Giro d'Italia for the Belgian team, but the place was given to Geert Steurs.
"The resignation is for personal reasons," Team Manager Marc Sergeant told sportwereld.be. "There is a lot of speculation but we have stopped guessing as to what really caused him to take this step. Our Italian directeur sportif Roberto Damiani had contact with him in the run-up to the Giro, but it seemed like he would rather beat around the bush instead of coming out and saying that he didn't want to go."
Damiani told tuttibiciweb.it that he was surprised by the news. "He was on our Giro squad, had done a good job in the Ardennes Classics, and we said that he would have a chance in the Giro to be in escape groups," he said. "Then came the surprise: two days after Liège, Volodymyr sent us a letter in which he said he was having knee problems and wanted to stop riding."
The Italian website also contacted Bileka, who had no comment. (SW)
(Additional research and assistance provided by Susan Westemeyer).