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Fedeli decries Gazprom-RusVelo's exclusion from racing

Tour of Antalya 2022 - 4th Edition - 2nd stage Kemer - Antalya 180,3 km - 11/02/2022 - Alessandro Fedeli (ITA - Gazprom - RusVelo) - photo Tommaso Pelagalli/SprintCyclingAgency©2022
Alessandro Fedeli at the Tour of Antalya (Image credit: SprintCyclingAgency)

On Tuesday, the UCI followed the recommendation of the Olympic Committee and suspended all teams registered in Russia or Belarus over the invasion of Ukraine. The announcement came on the eve of the Trofeo Laigueglia, where Gazprom-RusVelo - sponsored by the majority state-owned Russian energy concern - were due to take the start. Alessandro Fedeli hoped to celebrate his birthday racing with the team on his home soil, instead, the team - who hoped to race in unbranded jerseys - were turned away by the UCI.

Meanwhile, at the start, Drone Hopper-Androni Giocattoli took the stage to sign on all wearing the Ukraine national champion jersey in support of their young teammate Andrii Ponomar, 19, who did not compete in the race.

Fedeli, who signed for Gazprom-RusVelo after the demise of his former Delko team, pointed out the hypocrisy of the UCI allowing Russian and Belarusian nationals on foreign teams to continue racing, but international riders on his Russian team are excluded.

"I would like to know at this point why the Russian riders of the German or British teams can continue to race. It is a measure that feeds hatred, in an environment that is used to mixing nationalities," Fedeli said to Bici.pro (opens in new tab).

"In our team there are Italians, Russians, guys from the Czech Republic like [Marcin] Vacek who won in UAE and also from Costa Rica. The headquarters are in Italy, the team cars have Italian plates and the money comes from Germany."

Fedeli said the team did their best to try to get them in the race. "They would have agreed to stay all year without logos on jerseys, cars and bikes. And while we were there trying to understand, at 4:30 p.m. the UCI met and at 7:00 p.m. they told us to go away."

With the invasion still going on, and Ukraine homes, businesses and lives being destroyed by Russian missile attacks, it looks unlikely that the team's fortunes will improve any time soon. Surely not in time for Tirreno-Adriatico, probably not for Milan-San Remo, both of which were goals for Fedeli.

"The other day I did 7 hours and 20 of training preparing for Sanremo. I'm starting to think I'll never become what I hoped for. My dreams are shattered. I turned 26, which is not a few in today's cycling. Maybe the younger ones have time to leave, I don't know at this point. Even if they let us start again, the most important races of our season have gone."

Over the past week, Russian Pavel Sivakov (Ineos Grenadiers) has stated his opposition to the war and asked that individual Russians not be the target of hate. Omloop Het Nieuwsblad and Kuurne-Brussel-Kuurne winners Wout van Aert and Fabio Jakobsen also voiced their sympathies for the people of Ukraine.

Fedeli said, "I'm on the side of the team, and I can't say anything about the war. We were ready to race, but now the desire to train is gone. Let's see what happens. I returned from the Tour of Antalya with Covid. As soon as it passed, the team spent some good money sending four of us up to Teide. All thrown away! If the prospect is not to race for a long time, we might as well take a break and recover. I'm fine, I was fine. But certainly for my birthday I imagined a very different ending."

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