Team Colombia has withdrawn from the Tour of Turkey as eight of its riders are still without their passports after submitting them to the British embassy in Rome earlier this month. The riders handed over their passports when applying for the UK visas they require to travel to Belfast for the start of the Giro d’Italia on May 9.
The team was due to fly to Turkey on Friday but has since confirmed that it has been forced to pull out of the race as its riders are without the necessary documentation to travel.
“We accompanied eight riders to Rome on April 10th and 14th and paid a significant extra charge for the urgent procedure that should have guaranteed our passports would be returned within five days,” manager Claudio Corti said on Thursday. “Instead, the UK Embassy still holds the documents, without giving us any reasons.
“Right now, we do not know where our riders’ passports are – whether in the Embassy’s offices in the UK or travelling somewhere – nor we can predict when they might be returned. It is an absurd situation that might even jeopardize our Giro d’Italia participation.”
The problems Colombian riders have faced in obtaining UK visas were reported by las2orillas.co, which noted that Carlos Quintero, Jarlinson Pantano and Miguel Rubiano applied for visas at the British Embassy in Bogota on April 16, but had their requests declined, seemingly on a technicality.
“We asked for transit [visas] and we should have asked for tourist [ones],” Pantano told las2orillas.co last weekend. Pantano and Quintero since travelled to Europe to compete at the Giro del Trentino, and Colombia press officer David Evangelista explained that they since lodged another application with the British Embassy in Italy, like their other teammates.
“All the riders filed for visas in Italy, where the team sustained costs to activate an urgency procedure and make sure everything run smoothly. Only four riders, who went training in altitude in Colombia in April, had to file for visas at the UK Embassy in Colombia,” Evangelista told Cyclingnews earlier this week.
Outside of Team Colombia, it was also reported that Trek Factory Racing’s Julian Arredondo had his visa application declined, and is planning to reapply from Europe, where he is currently competing at the Ardennes classics.
Colombian cycling blog La Cadenilla also reported that Nairo Quintana (Movistar), who raced at the Tour of Britain last year, is already in possession of a UK visa, while Rigoberto Uran (Omega Pharma-QuickStep), Robinson Chalapud (Colombia) and Winner Anacona have successfully applied for visas.