By Shane Stokes
Following reports that Astana team leaders Alexandre Vinokourov and Andrey Kasheshkin missed a random health check prior to Sunday's 15th stage of the Vuelta, the team have said that there has been no communication from the UCI since.
Speaking to Cyclingnews after the press conference, the team's management insisted that the only reason the two riders missed the check was that the inspectors were not there early enough. "There is no problem with the UCI after yesterday. What happened was that the inspectors arrived too late at the hotel to do the control - we were due to leave at 7.30 and the inspectors arrived at 7.36 am," said directeur sportif Herminio Díaz Zabala. "The bus was already gone [Vinokourov and Kashechkin travelled this way] and the cars were about to leave."
The team's stance is that with the earlier than usual stage start [the stage started at 10 am rather than 1 pm, as is more usual on the Vuelta], the inspectors need to be there earlier to take account of this and also of the distances the teams need to travel to the start. "We don't know when they are going to arrive. That is normal, as the controls are surprise checks. But we can't plan our schedules according to the inspectors, they have to plan their own schedules relating to what the teams have to do on that particular day," he stated.
Cyclingnews has heard reports that members of the Rabobank team also missed tests yesterday, as they were leaving for the start when the inspectors arrived.
Weekend stages on this year's Vuelta have been held earlier than usual in order to maximise TV exposure.