The Gran Premio Miguel Indurain, April 5, will open the "Basque Week" next week, which includes – besides this race – the Vuelta al País Vasco, April 7 to 12, and the Klasika Primavera, April 13; however, one team was not granted permission to race: Liberty Seguros.
As the first race will be held in Navarra, the organisers wanted the participation of the Portuguese team Liberty Seguros, which has in its ranks two riders from the same province, Koldo Gil and Pablo Urtasun. The team also wanted to take part as it was present in yesterday's GP Llodio, where one of its riders, Hector Guerra Garcia, was victorious.
However, a decision of the International Cycling Union (UCI) has annulled the plan. Its rules state that foreign Continental teams – like Liberty Seguros – are not allowed to participate in races ranked hors catégorie (HC). (This was similar to the difficulties that Rock Racing faced entering the Milano-Sanremo - ed.) According to Noticias de Navarra, the race organiser Club Ciclista Estella knew this and sent a petition twice to the UCI asking for an exception; it is the standard way to grant permission to a continental team like Liberty Seguros.
The UCI dismissed these petitions without giving any explanation. A possible reason could be that it wants to punish Gil, who is suspected to be involved in the Operación Puerto investigation. Unfortunately, the decision not only punishes the rider, but the team, the organisers and the public.