Spanish national selector Francisco Antequera has named Caisse d'Epargne rider Joaquím Rodríguez as the ninth member of Spain's elite men's road race squad for the World Road Championships. Rodríguez is part of a star-studded lineup which still includes the name of teammate Alejandro Valverde, despite UCI assurances that the Murcian cannot compete due to alleged links to the ongoing Operación Puerto saga.
At present, the Spanish lineup is named as Alejandro Valverde (Caisse d'Epargne), Óscar Freire (Rabobank), Samuel Sánchez (Euskaltel-Euskadi), Carlos Sastre (Team CSC), Xavier Florencio (Bouygues Telecom), Carlos Barredo (Quick.Step - Innergetic), Manuel Beltrán (Liquigas) and Juan Antonio Flecha (Rabobank).
Perhaps making some concession that Valverde will not be riding, Antequera has said that José Iván Gutiérrez (Caisse d'Epargne) would be drafted in as a replacement for both the road race and time trial, should the UCI have its way. "I would like Alejandro [Valverde] to be with us," Antequera told Marca. "But if it is not possible, Iván [Gutiérrez] will be a good rider to work for the team."
The Spanish Cycling Federation has already announced that it plans to take Valverde's case before the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) and also the courts of Switzerland where the UCI is based. Federation president Fulgencio Sánchez said on Tuesday that there was still time for a court ruling, but denied Spain would withdraw from the championships altogether. "We're going to participate and to win," he told AP. "And if it's with Valverde, all the better."
Courtesy of Monika Prell