After missing out on three Grand Tours in 2010, Vacansoleil set for Tour this season
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Friday, January 7, 2011

After missing out on three Grand Tours in 2010, Vacansoleil set for Tour this season

by Shane Stokes at 4:01 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Tour de France
ASO gives good news to Dutch squad

Borut BozicLast season, the Vacansoleil team was passed over by the organisers of each Grand Tour, losing out in a ride despite a strong showing in the 2009 Vuelta a España. Determined to avoid a similar problem, it worked hard last season on the sporting aspect, picking up good results, and also on the administrative end of things. As a result it secured a ProTeam licence from the UCI.

According to the governing body, each of those teams will earn a place in all of the Grand Tours. Vacansoleil was still nervous though, being so set on riding the Tour de France for the first time and worried about losing out, and sought reassurance from race organisers ASO.

A response has been given, and it is a positive one. “According to ASO, the 18 teams with a ProTeam licence will start in the three Grand Tours,” manager Daan Luijkx told the Algemeen Dagblad publication. “The uncertainty has finally gone. It is now one hundred percent certain that we can start [the Tour]. Until now, nobody could confirm that for us.”

While the team will be there, uncertainty surrounds the two riders who would otherwise be the two best bets for a high general classification place. Vuelta a España runner-up Ezequiel Mosquera returned a positive A sample for the masking agent hydroxyethyl starch at the Spanish race. While his case has dragged on and no judgement has been passed yet, a shadow is hanging over the 35 year old.

Riccardo Riccò has already been caught, sanctioned and has returned after doping offences in 2007. He insists now that he is clean, and perhaps he is, but it remains to be seen if ASO will let him back into the race he damaged three and a half years ago.

Like Ivan Basso, he may well be allowed to ride again. However it’s possible that the organisers will require him to wait until 2012, giving them enough time to better assess the Italian’s renaissance.

If so, it would be up to riders such as the sprinter Borut Bozic, all rounder Johnny Hoogerland, double Tour of Flanders winner Stijn Devolder and 2009 Tour of Qatar winner Wouter Mol to lead the team’s charge in the Tour.


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