There is no Shack in Spain.
Organizers of the Vuelta a Espana announced the 22 squads invited to the race and American electronic gadget emporium did not make the cut. The Vuelta does not roll with Radio Shack.
“We really wanted to ride the Vuelta but we weren’t invited,” said Radio Shack spokesman Philippe Maertens. “The organizers said we didn’t have a strong team on a sporting level, that other teams are better. That’s strange because we wanted to send a very strong roster.” While Lance Armstrong had no plans to ride the Spanish tour, Levi Leipheimer and CHris Horner were thought to be part of the Vuelta line-up.
Joining the 16 pre-selected teams were Andalucía-Cajasur, Xacobeo-Galicia, Cervélo TestTeam, Team Sky, Katusha and Garmin-Transitions. BMC also lost out on their chance to ride the Vuelta. This means there will be a serious gringo shortage at the Vuelta. No El Hincapie, no senor Leipheimer. There will be tapas and sangria but no Radio Shack or BMC. This may mean that Gramin’s Tyler Farrar will have to be Gringo Numero Uno at the Vuelta. That’s a lot of pressure for one man, even the battling buddhist.
The race begins in Andalucía-Cajasur’s home region so they pretty much had their invite guaranteed. Xacobeo have a major GC threat in Ezequiel Mosquera, who was fifth last year and fourth in 2008 and always Spanish.
Carlos Sastre’s Cervélo TestTeam was also invited because Sastre is a Spanish name and so is Carlos. The Russian sneeze Katusha was an obvious choice given that have Joaquín Rodríguez, who is supremely talented and not surprisingly Spanish.
There may still be time for Radio Shack and BMC to make a last ditched bid. But first, Leipheimer is legally changing his name to Luis Leipheimero and Big George Hincapie is switching to Geraldo Hincapiguez. That paperwork is being expedited as we speak.