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Mont Ventoux
Photo ©: Sirotti

Cycling News Flash for March 26, 2004

Edited by Chris Henry & Jeff Jones

No Tour invitation for Kelme

The Amaury Sport Organisation (ASO), organiser of the Tour de France, issued a statement Friday afternoon indicating that the Comunidad Valenciana-Kelme team would not receive an invitation to the 2004 Tour de France. At the time of the initial selection of wild card entries for the Tour, only 21 of the customary 22 teams were announced, with the final spot held in reserve for Kelme pending assurances of the team's financial status.

Following the revelations of former Kelme professional Jesus Manzano, who has offered extensive allegations concerning doping practices within the team, ASO has decided not to extend the invitation to the Tour. A 22nd team will not be selected.

"Following the disclosures made by the Spanish rider Jesus Manzano, the organisers of the Tour de France esteem that the element of doubt hanging over the matter no longer permits the formerly contemplated presence of the [Comunidad Valenciana-Kelme] team at the start of the next Tour de France," the statement read.

Furthermore, based on its current understanding of the situation, Kelme is at present unwelcome at any of ASO's other events, which include major spring races such as the Critérium International, Paris-Roubaix, Flèche Wallonne, and Liège-Bastogne-Liège.

Catalan race delayed by riders' protest

The final stage of the Setmana Catalana did not start on time Friday, as the 112 remaining riders held a two minute protest on the start line against the words of ex-professional Jesus Manzano, who has this week lifted the lid on alleged doping practices within the peloton. The majority of the riders signed a petition protesting Manzano's claims, as well as asking the Professional Cyclists Association to "restore the dignity of cycling."

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