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89th Tour de France - Grand Tour
France, July 6-28, 2002
Tour de France news for May 26, 2002
Edited by Jeff Jones
Possible replacement for Team Saeco in Tour de France
A decision concerning the possible replacement of the Italian team Saeco in the upcoming Tour of France will be made no later than June 16.
According to Daniel Baal, director of cycling at the ASO (Amaury Sport Organization):
"The decision may be made as early as next week if we have all the necessary information available. However, June 16 will be the latest date to make a decision, at the end of Dauphiné."
The invitation granted to the Saeco team, which withdrew front-runner Gilberto Simoni from the Giro d'Italia on Friday after testing non-negative to cocaine, is the reason behind the decision from the ASO.
"It seems less and less probable to us that Simoni has been deceived. In this case, the withdrawal of the invitation is very possible," said Daniel Baal, adding that it was not "not question of acting prematurely".
"It is clear that we will remain with 21 teams", specified Baal, in agreement with the director of the Tour, Jean-Marie Leblanc.
When questioned on the name of the team which would be selected to possibly replace Saeco, Daniel Baal recalled that the decision would be made by taking account the circumstances of the last few weeks.
German squad Team Coast and Italian team Acqua e Sapone were in fierce competition for the last place that was finally granted to French team AG2R. But Acqua e Sapone's star rider Mario Cipollini has reportedly said that even if the team was selected, he would refuse to ride.
Daniel Baal added that other teams that "could be in the running" were French teams Jean Delatour or BigMat, and Swiss team Phonak.
What is certain is that there will be no "mixed team" that has previously been discussed.