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Czech rider accused of riding for his Astana teammate
Roman Kreuziger has been the target of some serious accusations in his home country following the London 2012 Olympic Games road race last weekend. The Czech rider, who is one of the leaders of the Kazakh Astana outfit, was accused of having raced in the interest of his trade team in the finale of the 250km-event on Saturday. Kreuziger was part of a breakaway of 25 riders when Alexander Vinokourov broke clear in the closing kilometres to take the gold medal.
"What a load of bull![sic]", the 26-year-old wrote on his personal website after Czech TV Nova claimed he did not provide help in the chase because he wanted his Kazakh teammate to win, possibly after having been offered money. "After the race I said that I wouldn't be the first to chase my teammate. But I also added: because of the fact that there were other riders who had their helpers at hand. Owing to this unfortunate statement, everything backfired against me.
"When Vino and Uran rode away from the group with about 6km to go, it never crossed my mind that they would stay ahead until the finish. I knew very well that there were some fast riders in my group who would want to bring them back to have a chance of sprinting for the medal. Moreover, I was the only Czech rider in that group compared to some other countries who had more riders there. There were three Spaniards, two Americans, two Dutch and two Belgians."
Kreuziger continued to defend himself on the grounds of race strategy and his relative inability to sprint. "I have never been and never will be a sprinter. It would have been a mistake if I had been chasing the duo alone and then I'd have finished as good as 12th, anyway. It wasn't my job to set the pace.
"If somebody had attacked at that moment I wouldn't have hesitated to go after him, regardless of Vinokurov's presence at the front. But if I know that I don't stand a chance in a bunch sprint, I don't pull the group. I thought that we'd catch them and I'd blast away with 3km to go."
In the final kilometres, Kreuziger did lead out the chasers for a short time, together with his Slovenian teammate Janez Brajkovic, and this led to a misinterpretation according to the stage race rider. "When I appeared with Brajkovic at the front with 3km remaining it wasn't because we wanted to slow down the group, as the Czech TV Nova claimed, but because we wanted to get the riders moving as nobody was interested in pulling."
In the end, Kreuziger placed 12th, but "instead of getting some credit for a solid performance I have read only criticism for helping a Kazakh rider who is my employer. That is a big fat lie! I was riding for the Czech Republic. My conscience is clear and I can only say that I couldn't have done more for a better result. That is all I could have done in that situation."