Bretagne Armor-Lux hopes for Tour start

Since Tour de France director Christian Prudhomme mentioned in mid-January the Bretagne Armor-Lux team in the same sentence as the start of the Tour de France, the team has been hoping it might be on the list of invitations for the Grand Tour's start July 5 in Brest. One of the team's financial partners is linked with the Brest regional council.

The team may be encouraged by the latest developments in the ongoing spat between the UCI and Tour organizers. Non ProTour organizers now have the prerogative to choose the teams invited to their races. No longer are the organizers compelled to invite all ProTour teams plus some number of wild cards. RCS Sport, organizers of the Giro d'Italia, may have set a precedent last week for the other Grand Tours by inviting teams like the Swiss squad NGC Medical while declining to invite four ProTour teams.

"Christian Prudhomme opened a door mid-January to us," said Joël Blévin, the team's President according to the AFP. "We have asked ASO what are the rules, ethical and medical, for officially presenting our candidacy [for entry into the Tour]."

"We always do what is necessary for our riders, exactly like the teams of the ProTour, who have also obtained biological passports," said Blévin, who does not believe ASO's interest is solely due to the geographic ties of his team. "ASO was allured by our program and its details. The program closely follows the riders. We are pioneers with it."

The team got off to a good start this year when it won two stages of the Tropical Amissa Bongo in Gabon. According to the AFP, Blévin recognized it would take a combination of circumstances for his team to get picked for the Tour de France, but he noted that whatever steps he is taking are worth it "even if we only have one chance out of ten. Even if we don't go in 2008, it will be useful for the future."

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