Astana announces that Pellizotti won’t ride for team after all
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Monday, December 9, 2013

Astana announces that Pellizotti won’t ride for team after all

by Shane Stokes at 3:39 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling
MPCC membership and rider’s previous ban had meant that he would miss races prior to Giro d’Italia

Franco PellizottiAlthough the Astana team confirmed on August 1st that it had signed a contract with Franco Pellizotti for the 2014, the team has today announced that the deal will not go ahead after all.

Things became complicated when the team was informed that its membership of the MPCC [Movement for a Credible Cycling] meant that it couldn’t engage him until two years after his previous doping ban ended; this was confirmed to VeloNation in August by MPCC president Roger Legeay, who explained the timescale involved.

“Normally the position is clear. He was suspended from the 3rd of May 2010 until the 3 May 2012 [for biological passport issues –ed]. So he can ride the 3rd May 2014,” Legeay said.

It meant that Pellizotti would be unable to ride preparation races prior to the Giro d’Italia, and would thus be short of form.

Although it was indicated that the contract would go ahead, Astana’s statement today reverses that position. Peculiarly, the team’s general manager Alexandre Vinkourov talks about the contract negotiations not having been fully concluded, contrary to previous indications by the team.

“It's with some sadness and a heavy heart that we will not be racing with Franco Pellizotti next year,” he said.

“Negotiations with the Italian champion have always been optimistic and forthright, but in the end we agreed that we could not go forward with a contract to race with Astana Pro Team in 2014.”

Pellizotti was initially victorious in the mountains classification in the 2009 Tour de France and also finished second in that year’s Giro d’Italia, although he subsequently ran into problems with his biological passport and had those results plus others stripped.

He was given a two year ban, then returned to action in May 2012. He took a number of high placings in Italian events and won the national road race championships. This year, he took second overall in the Route du Sud and was eleventh in the Giro d’Italia.

It is unclear where he will compete, but Vinokourov says the 35 year old still has time to make an impact.

“Pelizotti is in the prime of his career. On a personal level we respect his choices. We wish him success and good luck in the next season,” he stated.

“I take this opportunity to wish a full and speedy recovery to his agent Alex Carrera, whose very serious car accident in Italy last month scared us all and shows how important it is to be thankful just to be alive.”

It remains to be seen if Pellizotti will sign for a non MPCC team in a bid to ride a full programme of races in 2014. Astana has told VeloNation that its roster is full and therefore no other riders will be taken on after today's news.


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