By Jean-François Quénet
Andreas Klöden will not defend his title next week at the Circuit de la Sarthe where he won the time trial in Angers ahead of Bradley Wiggins prior to the overall classification in Le Mans in 2007. Last week he was forced to pull out of the Vuelta a Castilla y León because of the flu. Nevertheless, his team-mate Alberto Contador claimed another victory. But the runner up of the 2006 Tour de France had to take antibiotics and rest for a while.
Previously, the German hesitated between the Circuit de la Sarthe and the Vuelta Ciclista al País Vasco when he discussed his program with the staff of Astana. Now the decision has been taken that he'll resume racing at the Presidential Tour of Turkey (April 13-20). "I don't feel that I'm able to defend my title next week in the Circuit of la Sarthe", Klöden explained. "Therefore, the Tour of Turkey will come at the right time for me. It will help me to prepare for the Tour de Romandie that will take place ten days later. I've seen that the course in Turkey follows the Mediterranean seaside for one week without any transfer. The weather should be nice. Really, it's ideal. There will be many teams of a good level. That will make the race interesting."
ProTour races like the Tour de Romandie and the Dauphiné Libéré have become some of Astana's main goals this year since the Luxemburg-registered team didn't get invitations for the Giro d'Italia and the Tour de France. In addition, Klöden doesn't hide that he's sick of the rumours of doping surrounding his past years with T-Mobile. That's why he's excited about doing his job in Turkey, which will lead him to a new environment quite far away from the cycling controversies.