By Monika Prell
Victor Cordero will end his tenure as the director of the Vuelta a España after this year's edition, but his last effort has not been without controversy and difficult decisions. In an interview with the Spanish newspaper AS, Cordero talked about the logic behind the selection of just 20 teams to this year's event.
The criteria for the choice was "firstly ethical, secondly sportive and thirdly the motivation of the teams," the Spaniard said. "Furthermore, all teams are members of the the biological passport program. This has been the most important element for us to select some of the 33 teams that asked for an invitation."
The non-invitation of the team High Road, the only ProTour team will not participate in the September race, was, according to Cordero , due to "a problem of motivation." The director complained that the team "dallied with their answers and as they did not give us the names of the riders who are pre-selected for the race." The team eventually withdrew its application, preferring to send teams to other events such as the Tour of Missouri.
Cordero the only one of the three Grand Tour directors to invite the Astana, even though they were excluded from the 2007 edition after the previous year's winner Alexander Vinokourov tested positive for blood doping along with his Kazakh team-mate Andrey Kashechkin. "Last year we ignored them due to their doping scandals, but this season they had no doping trouble," Cordero explained. "I am talking regularly with [Johan] Bruyneel and [Alberto] Contador, and they guaranteed me that there won't be any problems, because they know that at the smallest misconduct, the concerned team – and I include every invited team – won't be allowed to participate."
Cordero is proud of the promise of participation of some big stars, like last year's Tour de France winner Alberto Contador, his team-mates Levi Leipheimer and Andreas Klöden, Silence Lotto's Cadel Evans, Carlos Sastre from CSC and the Caisse d'Epargne leaders Alejandro Valverde and Oscar Pereiro. "It's clear that the podium of the Tour de France 2007 will be present in our race and not in France. This is something the other big races are not able to say about themselves. The circuit and many riders of class will ensure that the upcoming Vuelta will be the best of the three big races," announced Cordero. Along with a strong field, a challenging course will also help raise the level of the Vuelta. "The stages of La Rabassa and the Angliru will be spectacular," insisted Cordero, "and Contador, Valverde or Sastre will also attract the fans."
The director of the race wishes that after his farewell everybody opines that "I left the Vuelta in better conditions than it was when I began."
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