Ezequiel Mosquera was presented at the official presentation of the Vacansoleil-DCM team in Rotterdam on Monday but it is far from certain if the Spaniard will be able ride for the team this year.
There is still no word on a final verdict regarding his positive anti-doping control at this year's Vuelta a Espana, in which he finished second overall and so he is allowed to compete.
Mosquera and his then Xacobeo teammate David Garcia Da Peña tested positive for Hydroxyethyl starch, which can be used as a masking agent for blood doping. Mosquera has repeatedly proclaimed his innocence.
Hydroxyethyl starch is not a performance enhancing product, and Mosquera can only be suspended from competition when both the A and B samples confirm the positive test. Apparently the B sample has still not yet been tested and the Vacansoleil-DCM claimed the UCI has given Mosquera the green light to compete.
According to the Dutch De Telegraaf newspaper Mosquera said: “I can only wait. It is not a pleasant situation but I'm learning to live with it. And maintain that I am innocent.”
“My family and my training are getting me through this. But if there is really a suspension, then that will be it. I'm 35, and my image has been damaged. Then it's time for other things in life.”
If he is allowed to ride this year, Mosquera hopes to ride his first Tour de France. “The Vuelta is my first objective, but I am going for both grand tours,” he said.
Confident for the future
Team manager Daan Luijkx tried to focus on the long-term hopes of the team of the team rather than the Mosquera case.
“In 2009 we aimed to be ready for the highest division by the end of 2011. The fast development of the team, the ambitious sponsors and the 12th spot in the sporting hierarchy of the UCI accelerated our growth. The license and sponsor contracts will last three years. This gives us plenty of opportunities to look ahead,” he said in a statement issued by the team.
Sport director Hilaire Van Der Schueren is confident the team can be competitive in the major World Tour races.
“Our 2011 squad must be able to compete in all sort of races. With the WorldTour license, our riders we can show ourselves in all big races and riders like Devolder, Leukemans, Riccò, Hoogerland and Bozic can aim for a specific goal,” he said.
“Last year we aimed for a top-three spot in a classic and we just missed out with Leukemans at Flanders, now we want to win a classic and finish top-three in the GC of a grand tour.”
Vacansoleil-DCM will ride the Tour Down Under, while the rest of the squad will head to Calpe for a training camp.
The Vacansoleil-DCM roster: Santo Anzà (Italy), Borut Bozic (Slovenia), Maxim Belkov (Russia), Matteo Carrara(Italy), Thomas De Gendt (Belgium), Stijn Devolder (Belgium), Romain Feillu(France), Gorik Gardeyn (Belgium), Michal Golas (Poland), Johnny Hoogerland (Netherlands), Martijn Keizer (Netherlands), Sergey Lagutin(Uzbekistan), Björn Leukemans (Belgium), Pim Ligthart (Netherlands), Marco Marcato (Italy), Wouter Mol (Netherlands), Ezequiel Mosquera (Spain), Jens Mouris (Netherlands), Alberto Ongarato (Italy), Marcello Pavarin (Italy), Ruslan Pidgornyy (Ukraine), Wout Poels (Netherlands), Riccardo Riccò (Italy), Rob Ruygh (Netherlands), Mirko Selvaggi (Italy), Joost van Leijen (Netherlands), Frederik Veuchelen (Belgium) and Lieuwe Westra (Netherlands).