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Relax tenses fight for Vuelta spot

By Antonio J. Salmerón

Spanish Pro-continental team Relax-GAM intends on making its voice heard for the participation in the 2007 Vuelta a España and thus will attend the International Association of Professional Cycling teams (AIGCP) meeting in London on July 5. Vuelta Directeur Victor Cordero announced the teams that will participate in this year's edition of the Spanish three-week race; he selected 19 ProTour teams (leaving out and two Pro-continental wildcard teams, Karpin-Galicia and Andalucia-Cayasur.

Last week, Cordero indicated his reasons for not selecting Relax. "The decision of not inviting Relax-GAM was taken because it did not give us total guarantees on its acceptance of the Code of Ethics." The team had signed questionable riders like Santiago Pérez and Oscar Sevilla, both of whom had been linked to doping investigations.

Yesterday, Relax-GAM assured that it has "always accepted the Ethical Code", and insisted in its, "commitment to respect it." Team representatives will attend an AIGCP meeting to be held in London. "We will be present in the next meeting of the AIGCP on July 5 in London, in which we will support the resolutions that will be passed there."

Today, Cordero indicated to La Nueva España that there is no problem with Pérez riding in the team and that the rider only needs to indicate that he is not connected to Operación Puerto. "Santi Pérez has already finished his two-year suspension for blood transfusion. The only thing he needs to do is clarify that his name is not linked to Operación Puerto with the Spanish Federation."

Cordero insisted that, "Pérez would not have problems to race the Vuelta, and in fact, he was listed by Relax-GAM [in its preliminarily list of riders that it had to submit to the Vuelta - ed.]." However, Cordero stated adding a 22nd team in the Vuelta would be "impossible" because of "logistic difficulties."

"It is not the same with other sports, in cycling there are many people who want to show us as sinners," said Pérez. "There is a need to finish the Operación Puerto investigation in Spain and then begin from kilometre zero with greater sincerity in the investigations."

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