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Riis explains Schleck and O'Grady expulsion

Saxo Bank team manager Bjarne Riis

Saxo Bank team manager Bjarne Riis (Image credit: AFP)

Saxo Bank team manager Bjarne Riis has revealed that he sent Andy Schleck and Stuart O'Grady home from the Vuelta a España because they stayed out until 5 a.m. last night. The duo were withdrawn by their team ahead of today's stage 10 from Tarragona to Vilanova i la Geltrú.

"They haven't respected the rules of the team," Riis said after the stage. "Whether it's one glass or ten, at 5 a.m., it's inexcusable. I've done what I had to do. The rules of the team are the same for everyone. We are professionals and we have to act professionally. I had to take this decision. It's up to them to assume the consequences of what they've done."

In a statement earlier today, Schleck had admitted to having a drink after dinner with O'Grady and said that while he accepted Riis's position, he felt that the punishment was too harsh.

Riis also confirmed that Schleck and O'Grady's suspension is applicable solely to the Vuelta. "The punishment is enough, it won't go beyond the Vuelta," he said.

This means that Schleck will be able to ride the Tour of Lombardy, which is his main end of season objective. It will be his last race for Saxo Bank before moving to the new Luxembourg ProTour team for 2011. Schleck had already announced that he would not ride the world championships.

Stuart O'Grady, however, will have to compensate for missing two weeks of racing at the Vuelta with intense training ahead of the Worlds. His compatriot Simon Gerrans is in a similar position, albeit for very different reasons. The Australian abandoned the Spanish race earlier than planned due to Team Sky's decision to withdraw from the race following the death of soigneur Txema Gonzalez.

Fränk Schleck remains at the Vuelta but will have to do without the support of his brother in the crucial stages in the Pyrenees.