By Antonio J. Salmerón
Vuelta a España director Victor Cordero has confirmed that there will be 21 teams at the start of the Vuelta in Malaga, as there has been no revision of the ProTour licences of Astana and Phonak by the UCI, and there are no new names due to come out in the Operacion Puerto affair.
"The UCI assures us that it hasn't received any new information with respect to Operacion Puerto, and, although the investigations are in progress, I do not believe that in a short time there will be new information," said Cordero to El Faro de Murcia.
The Vuelta director knew of UCI president Pat McQuaid's declarations on Cyclingnews that there would be "no new names" announced yet, and also received an official communiqué from the UCI telling him that the Astana and Phonak licences would be maintained.
"I am not going to question the UCI decision; I accept it," said Cordero. "The Vuelta will have 21 teams at the start in Malaga next Saturday, and if circumstances occur so that we have to apply the Code of Ethics, then we will do so."
In this sense, Cordero insisted that "no cyclist implicated in any anti-doping investigation will take part in the Vuelta", and he pointed to the Comunidad Valenciana affair. "As of today, this continues to have 17 cyclists allegedly implicated."
Finally, Cordero hopes that there will be no repeat of the Heras scandal, and hopes that "a cycling star emerges from this edition of the Vuelta, and why not Valverde? He is a charismatic cyclist, who has a great image. It is Valverde time."
Cyclingnews' recent coverage of 'Operación Puerto'
April 2, 2009 - Valverde indignant over possible suspension
April 1, 2009 - Valverde: Italy requests two-year suspension
March 13, 2009 - Le Monde newspaper hit with fine over Puerto allegations
March 2, 2009 - WADA president Fahey asks for Puerto evidence
February 24, 2009 - Spanish federation seeks access to Puerto blood bags
February 20, 2009 - CONI considers Valverde case while UCI awaits verdict
February 19, 2009 - Valverde under criminal investigation
February 11, 2009 - Valverde summonsed for Operación Puerto in Italy
February 8, 2009 - Eight charged in Operación Puerto