By Kirsten Robbins in Palo Alto, California
Rock Racing issued a visual statement at the start of the Tour of California prologue, sporting the overnight manufactured 'crucifixion' kits designed to counter AEG Sports' exclusion of its three riders: Santiago Botero, Oscar Sevilla and Tyler Hamilton.
Team owner Michael Ball commented on the barbed wire design rendition of the original 2008 kit -- coloured black and red -- in honour of its three riders not being permitted to start due to their reported involvement in Operación Puerto investigation. "Tyler, Santiago and Oscar are wearing these kits today [Sunday - ed.] because of what has happened to status with in this race," said Ball. "We had them printed up for the whole team to wear in support of its team-mates who are not able to race this week."
According to Ball his 'crucified' trio will continue its training regimen in the mornings and visit the expo events at the stage finishes to meet the public. "They are still a part of the team here this week," said Ball. "We keep our heads up high and focus on our training for the next race. Unfortunately, it's not the way we wanted to start the season."