UPDATED: Basso. Ullrich, Sevilla, Mancebo out of the Tour!!!
The Tour de France kickoff is one day away, but we already know which big guns
of the peloton are not going to win: Jan Ullrich and Ivan Basso, Oscar Sevilla
and Paco Mancebo.
Early this morning, the T-Mobile Team decided to suspend their best-known
athlete (and the only rider presumed to line up for the start with a yellow
jersey in Paris as part of his palmares) involved - according to rumors from
Spain - in the "Operación Puerto", the doping scandal that recently broke out at
Madrid and surroundings, and currently under investigation in the Iberian
Spain's own Oscar Sevilla as well as the "Magenta" Directeur Sportif Rudy
Pevenage were also hit by the same decision, according to the squad's speakers
Christian Frommert and Luuc Eisenga, who gave a press conference earlier this
morning and reportedly said that after they read the documents the Tour
directors delivered them, they decided it was impossible for them to continue
any form of cooperation with "those three persons". The Germana and the Spaniard
were replaced in the Tour de France T-Mobile line-up by Luxembourg's Stephan
Schreck and Italy's Lorenzo Bernucci.
More and more Tour de France "wannabe" participants were reportedly involved in
the Spanish scandal affair, the biggest name - Jan Ullrich's aside - reportedly
being that of Ivan Basso. And the Giro d'Italia winner, (formerly) aiming for a
sensational double this year, became the next excellent "victim" of last-minute
exclusions as the race directors announced minutes ago that the Team CSC leader
will not be allowed to start the race. Similarly to Ivan, and for the same
reasons, another man involved in the same "Operación Puerto" story, Spain's
Francisco Mancebo of the AG2R Prévoyance squad, will be forced to skip this
"unusual" (to say the least) 2006 edition of the event, that will start as
expected anywyay. But will some "smaller" rosters, as neither Basso nor Mancebo,
both of them (unlike Ulle) excluded by the race organizers, will be replaced.
Breaking news has Mancebo claiming innocence, and announcing he will, "hang
up his bike," and retire.
Even more guys might fall in the next hours though, as according to Bernard
Hinault, up to 15-20 athletes could be forbidden to start the race.
Further updates to come!