Giampaolo Cheula has been dropped from the Footon Servetto team for the Tour de France. His place will be taken by Aitor Perez, while Cheula will now ride the Tour of Austria, beginning on Sunday.
“Everything was fine. Today I should have been arriving in Rotterdam [for the start of the Tour de France] and then yesterday they told me that their plans had changed,” an angry Cheula told La Stampa.
“They called me when I was training. It was my last spin before plunging into the atmosphere of the Tour. I was on the climb of the Devero, and in my disappointment I turned around and went home to my son. It would be a lie to say that I wasn’t upset,” he said.
Cheula was keen to downplay the fact that he had been viewed by many as the leader of the very youthful Footon Servetto team. “Let’s say that the fact that I was the most experienced in the roster was a little over-emphasised. I would have been a reference point, but not the captain.”
Cheula is also aware of his place in the hierarchy of a professional team, stating “I’ve been a professional for many years. I know the environment in depth. And I have the maturity to understand that a dependent employee – which I am, to all intents and purposes – must accept the choices of those who run the company. I’m sorry, I was very angry, but after an afternoon with my family, I have to get back in gear."
He also emphasized that there will be no falling out with the team over his exclusion, saying “I repeat, I’m a dependent employee and I respect the company that pays my salary. Next year I might still be with Footon, so the relationship remains a good one."
Cheula goes to the Tour of Austria and will then build up to the Vuelta a Espana, while Footon rides the Tour without him. “A young Spaniard has been sent in my place”, he said. “I hope he does well."
The Spaniard in question is in fact Aitor Perez, two years Cheula’s senior. However, he is riding his first Tour de France, meaning that Footon Servetto’s line-up at the race will be composed entirely of debutants.