Although listed as a participant on the race’s official website in the run-up to the event, the Cofidis team will not take part in the Giro del Trentino, which begins on Tuesday. While race organisers claims that the French squad withdrew at the last minute, Cofidis manager Eric Boyer insists that his team had never formally confirmed its participation in the Italian stage race.
According to Nerino Ioppi, secretary of Gruppo Sportivo Garda, Cofidis had registered for the race in January, and the Giro del Trentino organisers will lodge a complaint with the UCI.
“We are very disappointed by the French team’s behaviour,” Ioppi told Spaziociclismo.it. “We intend to take every action allowed under UCI rules to have the costs incurred reimbursed and guarantee that the team is not allowed to take part in any other race on the same dates.”
However, Boyer denied that Cofidis had failed to give organisers notice of its decision to withdraw. He explained that although his team had initially registered its interest in participating during the winter, it had opted not to race in Trentino once it had received an invitation to the Amstel Gold Race.
“It’s not a forfeit, we didn’t pull out just like that, at the last minute,” Boyer told Velochrono.fr. “This winter, we notified the organiser of our desire to participate. But when we received responses to all of our requests for invitations, it was necessary to make choices."
“As we are not part of the World Tour, we found out quite late that the Amstel Gold Race had invited us, which was quite difficult to predict. There were therefore certain races that we could no longer do. And we alerted the organisers of the Giro del Trentino several months ago that it was impossible to take part in their race due to a lack of rider. I reiterate, I’m talking about several months, not weeks.”
Cofidis’ participation in Amstel Gold Race was publicly confirmed by race organisers on March 1, precisely seven weeks before the start of the Giro del Trentino.
Boyer maintained that as Cofidis had never completed the necessary paperwork to confirm formally that it would ride the Giro del Trentino, the team should not face any sort of punishment.
“We respected the rules of the UCI, since we didn’t send the entry form as we were supposed to do some weeks before the race. So you can’t talk about a forfeit or withdrawal,” Boyer said.
Instead, Boyer said that his team had simply requested an invitation in January, but had never followed up on its interest.
“It was only a letter of intention,” Boyer said. “We respected the rules and the deadlines."
Boyer also explained that his team had been in email contact on the matter with Piero Pieroni, an intermediary on behalf of the organisers. However, Peroni refused to support Cofidis’ version of events.
“When you sign a contract, you respect it,” Peroni told Velochrono.fr. “Cofidis’ behaviour is not that of a professional team.”
Although Cofidis are not named on the official start list, a provisional roster was included on the Giro del Trentino website, with David Moncoutié and Rein Taaramae among the eight riders listed.