|Tyler Hamilton was excluded from the Tour of California by AEG (© Rock Racing)
Rock Racing Team Owner Michael Ball said the team’s riders and staff collectively decided Saturday
night not to pull out of the race after race organizer AEG declared that three riders on the team’s original race roster
– Tyler Hamilton, Santiago Botero and Oscar Sevilla – would not be allowed to start.
In a press conference Saturday morning, Ball announced that each of the three riders’ national
federations had declared them free and clear to start the eight-day, 650-mile race. None are subject of any “open investigations”
related to doping.
At a press conference by race organizer AEG, officials announced that terms of a contract between the
race organization and each of the 17 teams in the race led to the exclusion of the three Rock Racing riders.
According to the Rock Racing team the relevant language in the contract with race organiser AEG is not
allowing AEG to ban Rock Racing's Oscar Sevilla, Tyler Hamilton and Santiago Botero.
|Rock Racing team owner Michael Ball (© Rock Racing)
The following part of the contract between AEG and Rock Racing is about the possible exclusion of
“Team agrees to participate fully
with all anti-doping initiatives as established by UCI, USA Cycling, USADA and WADA and to be subject to the respective sanctions
of such governing organizations. From the date of execution of this Condition of Entry Agreement by Team through the conclusion
of the 2008 ATOC, no member of the Team, which shall include without limitation named riders, coaches, trainers and Team management
(individually and collectively, “Team Member”) shall have any open investigation as determined by UCI and/or USA
Cycling) with regard to any matter involving a violation by such Team Member of any anti-doping rules as established by UCI,
USA Cycling, USADA and/or WADA, unless or until such Team Member has been acquitted of such violation by UCI, USA Cycling,
USADA and/or WADA…”
“No Team member participating in
the ATOC may be under suspension by UCI, USA Cycling, USADA, and/or WADA from the date of execution of this Condition of Entry
Agreement by Team through the conclusion of the 2008 ATOC.”
Ball stands firm that Rock Racing is compliant with those terms of the contract.
“This is not a decision governed by the agreement,” Ball said. “There is no open investigation.
AEG is acting irrationally, to the detriment of the sport.”
|Saniago Botero was excluded from California... (© Rock Racing)
The five Rock Racing riders who will compete in Sunday’s prologue time trial through the streets
of Palo Alto are: Mario Cipollini (ITA), Michael Creed (USA), Doug Ollerenshaw (USA), Victor Hugo Pena (COL) and Freddie Rodriguez
“Mario is in the best shape he’s been in five years and Freddie has tremendous form,”
Ball said. “Creed and Ollerenshaw can be great domestiques for those guys if they have to and you should never count
Ball said Hamilton, Botero and Sevilla will continue to accompany the Rock Racing team throughout the
Tour and are still part of the team. They will be available every day to sign autographs for fans before and after each race
and are slated to race throughout the remainder of the season.
“Our team is ready to go out there and show them what we can do,” Ball said. "These
guys are fired up and in the best shape of their lives. We’re ready to go out there and win.”
Join our forum and discuss the Tour of California
Special Coverage Tour of California 2008