By Wendy Booher
The prologue of the Tour de France starts Saturday in London and while there will be a noticeable absence of some celebrated names in cycling, most noticeable will be the lack of a number "1".
Traditionally the number belongs to the previous year's champion or to a member of his team. Floyd Landis should wear the number 1 this year, yet USADA will not rule in time for Landis to race this year's Tour [A verdict is expected this weekend. - ed.].
This will be the first time in more than 100 years of the Tour de France that there will be no #1.
"We are still taking into account the 2006 General Classification: Landis is absent; Phonak doesn't exist; so Pereiro will wear the first number, or any rider that Caisse d'Epargne chooses, which will be number 11," said Jean-Francois Pescheux, race director for this year's Tour to L'Equipe. "We couldn't start with numbers 2-10 since it poses difficulty to have numbers with zeroes (10-20-30-40...). It is simpler to start from 11. Caisse d'Epargne will be numbered from 11-19."
There are no UCI regulations to address this situation for ProTour events.
"The organizers have the liberty to do anything they want with regard to this matter," said Alain Rumpf, the manager of the ProTour at the UCI to L'Equipe.
Organizers for the Giro d'Italia faced the same problem after 2006 winner Ivan Basso did not compete while being under investigation for doping. Basso later confessed his involvement with the Operación Puerto affair May 8. Instead, reigning World road champion, Paolo Bettini got to wear #1.