Just time to fit in three tales from Spain amidst all the excitement and build up in Flanders.
Spanish sports minister says no political involvement
It’s one of those head-scratching moments. Faced with accusations that the Spanish federation’s verdict on the Contador case was influenced by political and judicial powers… Spanish sports minister Jaime Lissavetzky has said it wasn’t. Which surely only adds to the political pressure on the case give the minister has now a public position on the matter? Lissavetzky then went on to say UCI President Pat McQuaid opens his mouth too quickly, saying “he is very talkative“.
Today marks Lissavetzky’s last day in the job. He’s stepping down from being sports minister to run for mayor of Madrid. His record as far as cycling is concerned appears mixed. Spain has criminalised doping and that’s good and he’s also been one of WADA’s “European representatives”. At the same time he’s been a defender of the disgraced Alejandro Valverde, expressing satisfaction when the CAS ruled in favour of Valverde… and publicly questioning CONI’s attempts to match the DNA samples. Whoever takes over from Lissavetzky will certainly find their in-tray is full.
Valverde gets the call from Movistar
It’s not the surprise of the year. Alejandro Valverde was backed all the way by the team management in his lame attempts to deny a DNA match between his blood and a pouch of red blood cells discovered in Dr Fuentes clinic. Since then he’s been banned but has kept training, indeed he’s been visiting the Movistar training camps and doing everything but race with them, albeit whilst dressed in neutral kit.
Joe Lindsey over at the Boulder Report beat me to it with the analysis when said signing Valverde is potentially a risk. The team struggles for wins and recruiting Valverde could deliver but it also suggests the team is struggling to bring on new talent in what should be Spain’s premier team. So expect to see him Movistar when his ban ends on 1 January 2012 but I hope the team has a wider strategy.
Plus it’s probably time for Valverde to start working on his image, we all know perceptions matter when a rider plans a comeback and he had to address why tried to contest a DNA match, going beyond the CAS and all the way to the Swiss civil courts but each time he was knocked back.
No positives from Paris-Nice
Finally confirmation that nobody tested positive in Paris-Nice. There were rumours from Spain that I’d picked up on but thankfully, as I wished at the time, they were false alarms. The Spanish sports press is ferociously competitive and leads it to bring scoop after scoop but rumours are sometimes currency too.