By Gregor Brown
Danilo Di Luca is disappointed that the organisers of the Ardennes Classics have not invited him or his team for a second year running. Di Luca and his LPR Brakes-Farnese Vini team will instead race the Giro del Trentino next week, in preparation for the Giro d'Italia, May 9 to 31.
"There does not seem to be a valid reason for it, we have a strong team and we are within all the rules. It is unjust," Di Luca told Cyclingnews.
Amaury Sport Organisation (ASO), organiser Flèche Wallonne and Liège-Bastogne-Liège, and notified LPR Brakes at the end of last month that the team was not in the selection of 25 teams. The team already lacked an invitation to Amstel Gold.
Di Luca won the 2005 editions of Amstel Gold and Flèche Wallonne, and the 2007 Liège-Bastogne-Liège. However he was involved in an investigation based on anti-doping controls taken after the Monte Zoncolan stage of the 2007 Giro d'Italia. This was the presumed reason for the non-invite last year, though the Italian Olympic Committee (CONI) cleared him of any wrongdoing on April 16, before the Ardennes Classics.
"On the other hand, [Alejandro] Valverde still has this case hanging over him and yet he races. The organisers do what they want based on what is best for them," said Di Luca.
Di Luca is currently training in a bid to win a second Giro d'Italia. He said that the high-quality field in the Ardennes Classics would have been good for his Giro preparations. He has ridden reconnaissance over almost all of the Giro stages.
"The time trial [stage 12] will be difficult, but at least it is not a flat time trial. The Giro will be won day by day though; there are some really hard stages to Blockhaus, Vesuvio, Alpe di Siusi and Monte Petrano."
Di Luca will race the GP Nobili, April 18, and the Giro del Trentino, April 22 to 25, as his final preparation races.