By Antonio J. Salmerón
In the wake of 'Operation Puerto', it has now been announced that the organisers of the Tour de France, A.S.O., have chosen to withdraw the wildcard entry of Spanish Pro Continental Team Comunidad Valenciana. Their absence will not be substituted with another team, it has been reported.
After being excluded from the 2004 Tour, due in no small part to the revelations of former Kelme rider Jesus Manzano, Comunidad Valenciana had repeatedly stated its main goal was to be invited back to the race. In March 2 this year, the team looked set on achieving this goal when A.S.O. announced they and French Pro Continental Team Agritubel were the two successful wildcard entries.
Only last weekend, the team travelled to the French Alps to reconnoitre the decisive stages of this year's Tour of France. Rubén Plaza was to captain the squad under the guidance of team manager Vicente Belda, with Eladio Jiménez, David Bernabeu and David Blanco as Plaza's key riders. Julián Sánchez Pimienta, Juan Gomis, José Luis Martínez, José Adrián Bonilla and David Latasa were to complete the roster.
Cyclingnews' recent coverage of 'Operación Puerto'
April 2, 2009 - Valverde indignant over possible suspension
April 1, 2009 - Valverde: Italy requests two-year suspension
March 13, 2009 - Le Monde newspaper hit with fine over Puerto allegations
March 2, 2009 - WADA president Fahey asks for Puerto evidence
February 24, 2009 - Spanish federation seeks access to Puerto blood bags
February 20, 2009 - CONI considers Valverde case while UCI awaits verdict
February 19, 2009 - Valverde under criminal investigation
February 11, 2009 - Valverde summonsed for Operación Puerto in Italy
February 8, 2009 - Eight charged in Operación Puerto