Riis ready to battle UCI for Contador’s points if he returns to Saxo Bank
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Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Riis ready to battle UCI for Contador’s points if he returns to Saxo Bank

by VeloNation Press at 8:02 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling
Believes UCI’s rule is unfair and unenforceable

Alberto ContadorFollowing comments by Alberto Contador yesterday that he ‘s likely to return with the Saxo Bank squad after his doping ban ends, the team’s owner Bjarne Riis has pledged to battle the UCI in relation to an issue relating to the rider’s points.

Under current UCI regulations, riders coming back from a serious doping sanction cannot have their points considered for two years after their return. The rule pertains to the calculation of points for each team’s WorldTour licence.

If the rule remains, Riis would have the headache of needing to play a high salary to Contador while also needing to find the cash to ensure that the team has other riders with sufficient points to secure the top-ranking licence.

That could essentially double the budget of the team.

“We can under no circumstances accept the rule. It is the same as if Lionel Messi came back after an exclusion, continued to score goals for Barcelona, but the goals did not count. It’s so ludicrous, I see a problem,” Riis told Politiken.

“If we have so expensive a man such as Alberto on the payroll, we must also be able to use him to fulfill our ambitions. They are, amongst other things, to be part of the WorldTour.”

The WorldTour licence gives a team automatic right to compete in all races at that level, including the Tour de France. It therefore gives surety about the racing programme and prevents the need for wildcard entries to the top events.

This week Contador gave an interview with the Spanish radio station Cadena Cope, and said that competing on Riis’s squad was the most likely outcome for him.

“We are now working on deciding which team I will race with after my suspension,” he said. “Many top teams have been in contact with my brother [his agent Fran Contador]. Six teams, amongst them Movistar. But my priority is Saxo Bank, which supported me a lot at all times, unconditionally. It has behaved in an exceptional way. You couldn’t put an economic value on its help. So for that reason, it is my priority.”

On February 6th Contador was handed a partially-backdated two year ban by the Court of Arbitration for Sport, which rejected his arguments that he should be cleared without punishment for his positive test for Clenbuterol during the 2010 Tour de France.

It said that he would lose his winning slot in the race and also all of his results since then. Under the ruling, he would be eligible to return to competition on August 5th.

He said this week that he plans to get back in action as soon as possible, with his first race being on August 6th.

“I will definitely return in the Eneco Tour, then the Clasica de San Sebastian and the Vuelta a Espana,” he said. “I will go to all the races with the intention of contesting them. I will have big goals in the Vuelta, particularly as I will have fairly fresh legs.”

“The Vuelta means a lot to me. I am very motivated for it. Cycling is not mathematics, I must train a lot and take on some very good riders.”

He added that he would love to be selected for the world championships, particularly as this year’s route is a tough one. “The course, with rolling hills and changes of rhythm could favour me.” However he acknowledged that other riders such as Samuel Sanchez and Alejandro Valverde would be well suited to it.

Meanwhile, while the Spaniard is readying for physical battles, Riis is also gearing up for combat. The Dane knows that preserving the team’s WorldTour licence could depend on whether or not he can overturn the UCI’s ruling.

“We are currently in the process of studying how we should take the matter on,” he said. “ I know well what the UCI’s stance is, and now it is up to us to prove that it should not apply.”


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