By Susan Westemeyer
Will Christophe Moreau be unable to defend his title in the Criterium du Dauphiné Libéré this year? The race organisers have indicated that, due to finances, they may only be able to invite ProTour teams, which would exclude last year's winner – Moreau – who this year is with the Professional Continental Team Agritubel.
Race organiser Thierry Cazeneuve indicated that the race must pay so much for the anti-doping programme that it can only take the 18 ProTour teams. "It is an economic problem," he told L'Equipe. "I expect to pay 45,000 euro to the French agency [AFLD - Agence Française de Lutte contre le Dopage - ed.] for controls and to the UCI for the biological passport system. As compared to paying nothing in 2006. 45,000 euro, that is about the cost of two and a half teams.
"It is an aberrant system," he continued. "As the organiser of an international race, I must pay the AFLD for controls. But at the same time, the doping controls for professional football are paid by the state!
"This is not directed against Moreau," Cazeneuve noted. The French rider rode last year for Ag2r Prévoyance, and his new team, Agritubel, took the news philosophically. Sports Director Denis Leproux said, that if the team is not invited, "We will have to adapt by finding another race or by organising a training camp. We did not ride it last year and still had a good Tour de France."