Lotto Soudal neo-pro Bjorg Lambrecht will not start the Santos Tour Down Under after his team revealed that an administration error meant he had not complied with the UCI anti-doping Whereabouts programme. The team confirmed that, despite arguing to the UCI that Lambrecht should still race, they were forced to pull him from their line-up on the eve of the event.
Riders are meant to use the Whereabouts system in order to log their location at all times. The data is then used by anti-doping authorities when testing riders.
UCI rules dictate that all neo-pros must have a backlog of six weeks (42 days) of whereabouts data before they can race. However, according to Lotto Soudal, Lambrecht only received his login details for the system on December 15, with the message that he must log Whereabouts data as of December 17 – just 30 days before the start of the Tour Down Under.
"This is a huge disappointment," said Lambrecht.
"We came to Australia a week ago, I felt good in the group, was looking forward to my first pro season and then it’s a huge disappointment when you hear you can’t start. But of course we can’t take any risk. I will stay here to train for a week and then I will head to Melbourne with the team."
According to Lotto Soudal, the team petitioned the UCI, stating that they did not agree with the decision.
"We explained with an extensive argumentation, but without a written confirmation of the UCI that Bjorg can start, neither the rider nor the team can take any risk," read a statement from the team. "Bjorg Lambrecht won’t be replaced, which means Lotto Soudal will start with six riders on Tuesday instead of seven."
Lambrecht will be able to take part in the Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race, which takes place on January 28.