By Paul Verkuylen
The Predictor-Lotto ProTour team is planning on filing a claim against Alexandre Vinokourov and his Astana team for loss of publicity. The Kazakh rider won the Stage 13 time trial before testing positive for blood doping, taking away victory from Predictor-Lotto's Cadel Evans who finished second on the stage and currently holds second on general classification. If Vinokourov is found guilty and disqualified from the race, Evans will be declared the winner of the stage, however will obviously have missed the publicity benefits associated with a stage victory in the prestigious race.
Speaking on Belgian TV, Predictor-Lotto's spokesperson Filip Demyttenaere was clearly disappointed with recent events at the Grand Tour. "I am surprised everyday," he confessed. "The Astana scandal dropped like a bomb, I don't understand it and I don't know what to say."
"My biggest frustration is for the sponsors, we came he to get as much publicity as possible for the team," he added. "Cadel was second on the time trial stage, but now it appears that he should have won, as Vinokourov cheated. But Cadel didn't get to stand on the podium as the winner of the stage, which means we lost a lot of publicity that would have been generated by his win."
The team is reportedly planning on suing the Kazakh and his team for 10 million Euros. "The day after the time trial the front pages of all the papers were covered with images and headlines of Vinokourov, we missed out on that publicity," explained Demyttenaere. "Yesterday [the rest day] it was the same at the press conference, instead of the journalists coming to see us, they all went to write about the positive dope test. Again today the papers are full of images and stories on Astana. We do our best and yeah, it's frustrating."
Demyttenaere went onto to explain that he feels because of Vinokourov the rest of the Tour has been falsified. "We don't know how the following stages would have been ridden, they may have been less aggressive," he said.
"We have missed a lot of publicity because of this, and that is worth a lot of money," Demyttenaere reiterated, adding that the team is at fault just as much as the rider. "Vinokourov didn't do it alone, he is surrounded by people helping him to dope, you can't possibly do that kind of thing alone."
Demyttenaere said he had also spoken with Patrick Lefevere, claiming the director of Quick.Step said he also thought about taking action. "Teams like Astana win by using un ethical means, taking all the publicity that belong to the clean riders and teams. We can't let that go by," he concluded.