In a confusing press conference held after stage 19 of the Vuelta a España, Spanish national coach Javier Minguez finally named 15 riders for the 14 spots on Spain's long list for the UCI Road World Championship elite men's road race, including Alberto Contador.
Contador has already ruled himself out of taking part in the Worlds, but Minguez argued, "I am the trainer and I have to put him down."
"I'm including Contador because he was in the list I had in mind, and he has to be there because of his quality. He told me not to count on him, but as trainer I have to choose the best and he is one of them."
Minguez added, "I have to accept his decision, even if I don't like it."
Asked repeatedly why Contador was on the Worlds list when it was clear he would not take part, Minguez replied, "You're trying to whip up a controversy when it doesn't exist."
Minguez' initial list of 14 riders for Spain in the Worlds road race included: Alejandro Valverde, Jon and Gorka Izagirre, Jesus and Jose Herrada, Imanol Erviti and Jonathan Castroviejo (Movistar), Contador (Tinkoff-Saxo), Joaquim Rodriguez, Dani Moreno and Alberto Losada (Katusha), Mikel Nieve (Sky), Samuel Sanchez (BMC) and Dani Navarro (Cofidis).
However, when it was pointed out to him that Luis León Sanchez (Caja Rural), one of four riders down as possibles to race the time trial for Spain, together with Castroviejo, Gorka Izaguirre and Markel Irizar (Trek), was missing from the road-race list, Minguez said, "I'll add him in then. That's a mistake on my part."
That, another journalist indicated, meant one rider would have to be dropped. "I'll have to get rid of one of the [other] names before tomorrow morning, but I'm not saying who here."
Asked yet again if he was disappointed by Contador's decision not to race, Minguez said, "Of course. I told him it was bad news and that was all."
A final list of nine riders will be announced by Minguez by the middle of next week.
Alasdair Fotheringham has been reporting on cycling since 1991. He has covered every Tour de France since 1992 as well as numerous other bike races of all shapes and sizes, ranging from the Olympic Games in 2008 to the now sadly defunct Subida a Urkiola hill climb in Spain. Apart from working for Cyclingnews.com, he is also the cycling correspondent for The Independent and The Independent on Sunday.
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