Team Manager Johan Bruyneel Stunned over Team RadioShack’s Non-Invite to the Vuelta
Bern, June 14th 2010 – Team RadioShack has not been selected as one of the 22 teams that will line up in the Tour of Spain in September 2010. Team Manager Johan Bruyneel was perplexed when he heard the news from the media. Sixteen teams had already been pre-selected under a 2008 agreement between the organizers and the UCI but Team RadioShack did not get one of the six wild cards.
“I am not only surprised, I am speechless,” commented Bruyneel from the Tour of Switzerland. “At first I thought it was a mistake so I called organizer Javier Guillén for some explanation. He told me that the other teams offered him better options on a sporting level. I had to ask him to repeat it as I could not believe this but I heard right: we didn’t offer a good enough team. I cannot accept or understand this decision. With Levi Leipheimer, Andreas Klöden, Chris Horner and Jani Brajkovic we had four potential Vuelta WINNERS on the roster we sent to Unipublic. Our 2010 Team goals were the Tour de France and the Tour of Spain. That’s why – together with the need to perform well in the Tour of California – we skipped the Tour of Italy this year. ”
“Up until now it has never been accepted that a Team Manager stands on a soap box to defend the rights of the teams and the riders. We always have to accept; we don’t have many rights. After what I heard today, I take it as a personal mission: from now on I will fight for the interests of the cycling teams. It will be more than just a goal. I will work for it as hard as I’ve worked for my own team. It is really urgent that action be taken now as this is the time that the organizers will listen to the opinions of the teams. I will do everything that I can to bring all big teams to one level. What happened today is only a detail.”
“In cycling there are three parties: UCI, organizers and teams/riders. Unlike in other professional sports, the teams and riders are the main actors who are never heard. I will fight for our rights and for other things that rightfully belong to us but we never get. There is an abuse of power. Some organizers take away the hunger of potential sponsors to invest in our sport. It is unjust that a new sponsor, coming into cycling with a lot of enthusiasm, is not rewarded for their financial input. For me it is hard to explain to my sponsor that 21 other teams are apparently better than us. Especially when it isn’t true. These actions are unfair to our sponsors as well as a blow to our fans. “
“It is high time for ‘professional’ cycling to become professional. The structure of our sport needs to change towards a model of other successful professional sports like soccer, tennis, Formula 1, etc. Today, this is happening to our team and sponsors, tomorrow it could be any other team. Even if some parties don’t like to see or hear this, I will do anything which is in my power to contribute to making this happen.”