Contador and Valverde not guaranteed Tour start

In an interview with Spanish newspaper Marca , Tour de France director Christian Prudhomme said he...

In an interview with Spanish newspaper Marca, Tour de France director Christian Prudhomme said he could make no promises over the participation of defending champion Alberto Contador or Alejandro Valverde in this year's race, after the Italian Olympic Committee (CONI) recently re-opened its enquiries into Operación Puerto.

"Today I cannot say that Valverde or Contador will not be in the Tour," said Prudhomme, speaking at the Tour of Qatar in Doha. "It is still early, we are not going to exclude individual riders, but instead not invite an entire team."

While the teams for this year's Tour de France are due to be announced in two weeks time, UCI president Pat McQuaid said that the Tour was the only race to which all 18 ProTour teams should be invited, under new proposals agreed with various European cycling federations on Saturday. "All 18 ProTour teams have to take part in the Tour de France, the ASO can then add wildcard teams from the list of 12 who are using the biological passport system," said McQuaid. But he added: "There's no indication if [Tour de France organisers] ASO will accept this or not."

Prudhomme revealed he had talked with Astana team manager Johan Bruyneel, requesting the Kazakh squad sign a contract with ASO affirming its commitment to clean cycling. "Thus, if the team had any problem relating to doping we could exclude them directly," said Prudhomme. "Today I am not going to say whether or not Astana will be at the start of the 2008 Tour, but if there is one thing that is true it's that this team has damaged the image of the Tour."

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