September 18, 2007 (Madrid, Spain) – The Spanish Cycling Federation (RFEC) wants Alejandro Valverde (Caisse d’Epargne) to race at the 2007 Road World Championships as part of the Spanish team in Stuttgart on September 30, despite the UCI declaring that Valverde is ineligible. The RFEC announced today that it is challenging the UCI declaration before the Swiss-based Court of Arbitration in Sports (CAS) and before regular Swiss courts according to a press release posted today in Spanish at the federation website.
The UCI wants the 27-year-old Spanish cyclist excluded from the Road Worlds while a disciplinary action launched against for his possible involvement in the Puerto doping scandal. An August 29 press release from the UCI states, “These proceedings would not imply any guilt on the part of Alejandro Valverde. However, according to UCI regulations, and to safeguard the atmosphere and reputation of the World Championships, Valverde will be prevented from participating in the forthcoming UCI Road World Championships in Stuttgart.”
The RFEC believes that there is time to resolve the matter before the Worlds and mentions that Valverde is pre-enrolled for the event, “although if we do not obtain an answer to our demand before (September) 30 we are not going to be so stupid as to withdraw before the denunciations.” The RFEC concludes its press release, “We (the Spanish team) are going to go to participate and to win. And if it is with Valverde, so much the better”.
Valverde has been described as one of the “most talented” cyclists of his generation and finished sixth at the 2007 TdF. Spain seems solidly behind his participation at the 267.4km elite men’s road race on September 30, and Spanish Sports Minister Jaime Lissavetzky has come out recently in support of the cyclist. In 2006, Valverde finished third at the Road Worlds.
Meanwhile, 2007 Tour de France winner Alberto Contador (Discovery Team) will not be competing for Spain at the Worlds according to a recent AFP report. Spanish team coach Paco Antequera is quoted as saying that Contador’s association with the Puerto scandal makes him ineligible for Stuttgart. Antequara added that Contador’s head is elsewhere and he needs to find another team – Discovery is being disbanded at the end of this season – before he can concentrate on racing. But it is unclear why the Spanish team takes such divergent stands over the two riders in apparently similar circumstances.
Another recent AFP announced a meeting of all major ProTour organizers and six European national cycling federations to discuss “the future of cycling.” That meeting is tentatively planned for October 23 in Grenada, Spain.