That loud scream you heard today was Alberto Contador shouting at the top of his lungs with glee. The UCI has ruled that Astana, along with five other teams, have not fulfilled the necessary obligations for a ProTour license renewal.
Contadors’ get-out-of-kazak-jail card read as follows: “By UCI regulations, riders of all five teams which have not yet met the requirements for a ProTour license can terminate their contracts if they wish.”
The direct phone lines to Quickstep, Garmin-Slipstream and Caisee d’Epargne are now busy and Mr. Alberto and his brother are running the financial packages as we speak. This will go down as Alberto’s Best Day since he stepped to the top of the Tour de France podium.
Alberto will also be making a nice donation to whatever small Spanish church he prayed and prayed in the last few months — “please, holy father, get me out of Astana.” Wish granted my son, pass the donation basket.
Wow, all this and Lance riding the Tour of California. Not a slow news day in the world of cycling. Vino has Astana all to himself now. El Pistelero could say “there’s no I in Astana.” Particular thanks should go to the famous accounting firm, Ernest & Young, who inspected the Astana financial guarantees or lack thereof.
Lawyers for the two-time Tour de France winner will not doubt enjoy this particular passage: “The standard UCI rider/team contract (2.15.139 article 8.1.f) states, if, on 20 October of the year preceding a year of registration covered by the present contract, the UCI ProTeam has not submitted a registration file containing the essential documents,” the rider may terminate the contract “without notice or liability for damages.” That’s legalese for “Caisee d’Epargne here I come.
This raises the possibility that basque human football Haimar Zubledia will be free to join Radio Shack. The top climber was supposed to go, then was unceremoniously handed back to Astana as part of former Astana manager Johan Bruyneel’s exit package.
You’d also have to wonder what possessed David de la Fuente to sign last week for Astana. (Money, diamonds, his own oil field in the Ural mountains?) Wouldn’t you wait an extra week to make sure your new team had a license given all the trouble surrounding the kazah backed squad?
David, make friends with Alberto quickly — maybe he’ll take you with him. Because, uhh, he’s leaving, you know that, right?