ProTour team Astana has been dealt another blow with major cycling race organiser RCS Sport not inviting the squad to this year's Tirreno-Adriatico or Milano-Sanremo, according to HLN.be. The news comes exactly one week after fellow major cycling race organiser ASO, which operates the Tour de France, announced the Johan Bruyneel-led squad wouldn't be invited to any of its races in 2008.
RCS Sport, who organises the Giro d'Italia, yesterday announced the squads for its first two major events of the season, with Astana left off the two invite lists. Astana's absence at Tirreno-Adriatico means Andreas Klöden is unable to defend his 2007 title at the event.
"It's a very unfortunate situation for not only our riders, but also the sport of cycling," said team director Johan Bruyneel. "It appears that only a few powerful race organisers do not recognize that we are an entirely different team from 2007 and should be allowed to compete in the world's biggest races.
"The decisions handed down by the organisers are inconsistent. RCS originally told us that our Giro d'Italia squad was not to their competitive expectations," he continued. "Now RCS has not invited us to Milano-Sanremo and Tirreno-Adriatico, where team leader Andreas Klöden was prepared to defend his 2007 title. It's very hard to understand these decisions when there are no rational and consistent reasons behind them. We continually attempt to reach RCS for further explanation and wait for proper justification as we still hope to participate in future RCS events."
Also among the list of non-starters at Tirreno-Adriatico are Crédit Agricole and Bouygues Telecom, the two French teams that were also not selected for the Giro. Both teams have however reportedly been granted a start in the first Classic of the year, Milano-Sanremo.
Tirreno-Adriatico takes place from March 12-18 and the 99th edition of Milano-Sanremo is scheduled for March 22.