Volcano continues to disrupt riders' travel plans

The knock-on effects of Icelandic volcano Eyjafjallajökull continues to affect professional cycling, as the riders try to find alternative ways of traveling to and from races. Alberto Contador, Alejandro Valverde, Luis Leon Sanchez and Oscar Pereiro all are already on their way from Spain to Belgium for Wednesday's Fleche Wallonne, Kurt Asle Arvesen found himself stuck on an oilrig in the North Sea and many of the riders who completed the Presidential Tour of Turkey are struggling to get home.

Contador had barely any time to celebrate his overall win in the Vuelta a Castilla y Leon on Sunday before setting off on his northward 1800km road trip to Belgium. The Astana rider started out with a 900km drive from Santiago de Compostela, Spain, to Pau in France, where he spent Sunday night. From there he is due take a five-and-a half hour train journey to Paris today, and will then make the final leg to Liege by team car The trip, which would normally take two and a half hours by plane, will take almost two days.

The two-time Tour de France winner was joined by one-time Tour de France winner, teammate Oscar Pereiro, who twittered a photo of himself in a train that was so crowded, people were sitting in the middle aisle. “Go travel!” he said. “Car 9 hours yesterday, now 6 hours by train and two in the bus to Liege! This is full of people, what chaos!”

Alejandro Valverde, of Caisse d'Epargne, was supposed to have ridden Sunday's Amstel Gold Race, but was unable to get to the Netherlands. He is now traveling to Belgium b car, along with teammates Luis Leon Sanchez and Luis Pasamontes. No travel details were announced, but the three are expected to arrive in Liege today.

Andre Greipel was able to win five stages of the Tour of Turkey, but was unable to out sprint the volcano. The HTC-Columbia sprinter caught a late night flight to Istanbul on Sunday, hoping to get home to Germany, but he is now stuck there.

“I can't get out of Istanbul. I have no idea how things will go. I didn't want to take a vacation here,” he told the German news agency SID. “There are supposed to be some flights getting off to Vienna. That might be a possibility.” However the Köln-Bonn airport closest to his home in Cologne, Germany, is closed until at least eight o'clock this evening.

His teammates Mark Renshaw and Tejay van Garderen, who finished second overall in the race, were able to get flights out to southern Europe. Directeur sportif Jan Schaffrath was not so lucky and neither were most of the team's soigneurs and mechanics, who are still in Antalya. “The latest news is that we can leave on April 22 at the earliest,” Schaffrath said. “But nobody knows how things might develop.”

HTC-Columbia started the Amstel Gold Race with just six riders in, and will probably go short-handed again in Fleche Wallonne on Wednesday. “If the conditions don't change, then we won't start there at full strength,” sport director Rolf Aldag said, adding philosophically: “It shows that cycling races aren't the most important things in the world.”

Even team boss Bob Stapleton has been affected, as he has been unable to get away from London.

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