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Tour de France News for June 5, 2004

Edited by Chris Henry

Beloki malcontent

It's been a rough week for Joseba Beloki, who first found continuing difficulty due to allergies and asthma in his home tour, the Euskal Bizikleta, then found out through the cycling press that his employer has decided to pull the plug on the Brioches La Boulangère team at the end of the season.

Beloki remains frustrated that the French cycling federation (FFC) considers his habitual asthma medicine, which includes cortisone, a banned substance. The Spanish federation and Beloki's former ONCE-Eroski team accepted his documentation for the use of the medicine, but matters in France have proven more difficult.

Perhaps more importantly, however, is Beloki's disappointment at not having been alerted by his team that title sponsor Brioches La Boulangère had decided to withdraw from sponsorship at the end of the season. Beloki signed with the team for 2004-2005, but does not yet know what will become of the second half of his contract.

"I would have liked to have been kept informed by my directors," Beloki said upon hearing the news Thursday morning that the sponsorship would end. "Since the beginning, I've felt very good in this team. Everything has gone well with my teammates, but I think with the directors there's a problem with communication."

Beloki's mood seemed to grow only more angry a day later, after the news of La Boulangère's withdrawal had spread. "I have a two year contract, but with the parent company, not the sporting group," he told l'Equipe. "There are a lot of things that aren't normal in this team. I don't know if I'll be free [from my contract] or not, but I don't see myself here next year.

"The manner in which I learned the news is not good," he added.

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