Leipheimer petition: 50.000 signatures for Let Levi Ride

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04.03.2008/ In these chaotic days there is growing protest against the International Cycling Union (UCI) and the Amaury Sport Organisation (ASO). There are petitions to put pressure on ASO to let Levi Leipheimer and Alberto Contador start at this years Tour de France and fans of Frank Vandenbroucke will launch a petition to put pressure on the UCI to let the Belgian rider start at Pro - Tour races.

© Heinz Zwicky
Alberto Contador is not allowed to defend his title ( Heinz Zwicky)

The growing unrest in the cycling world is the reason for more and more riders, fans and sponsors to protest against their exclusion from the Tour de France and/or Pro - Tour races.
Bike manufactrurer and Astana sponsor Trek supported Levi Leipheimer to start the petition Let Levi Ride. Until now Leipheimer collected almost 50.000 signatures of people who want to see him race this years Tour de France.
In an e-mail from today, Leipheimer said: "When Trek helped me implement the idea for a “Let Levi Ride” campaign, I immediately recognized its potential to create positive energy in response to my and my teammates’ exclusion from ASO events, as well as its ability to unify cycling fans into one voice. With the Tour of California set to kick off, the timing couldn’t have been better. Since then, the outpouring of support from “Let Levi Ride” has been absolutely phenomenal. I’m more hopeful than ever this campaign will reach a critical mass and compel the ASO to reverse its decision. But I’m also realistic about long odds I’m facing."
Leipheimer continued by saying: "For professional cyclists, teams, sponsors, the sport in general, and especially the fans, the implications of the ASO’s decision are staggering. Without clearly stated rules that are fairly enforced on all teams, the ASO single-handedly controls the fate of both the cyclists who have dreamed and trained their whole lives to participate in some of the world’s most renowned races, and the sponsors who have invested millions of dollars to see their teams represented on the world’s biggest stages. To not speak out and fight for change is to surrender our sport to the whims of a powerful few."
Leipheimer concluded with: "More than ever it’s important that we ask questions of the ASO and demand answers. This fight isn’t about me. It’s about the sport and the races we all love. And it’s a fight worth fighting."
ASO motivated its decision not to invite the Astana team at thiy years ASO races in a press release on February 13. ASO said: "A.S.O. has decided not to invite Astana on the events that it organises in 2008, based on the damage caused by this team during the 2007 Tour de France and to cycling in general, both in 2006 and 2007."

ASO continued by saying: "The Astana team has indeed betrayed, last year, the confidence of the organisers that had invited them based, already, on their faith of a renewal announced by its leaders."

Astana might be allowed to race ASO races in 2009: "However, as the team has once again changed, A.S.O. will remain careful at the efforts that Astana will set up to live a 2008 season without affairs or suspicion, and could then reconsider a possible candidacy for its future events."

Almost 25,000 fans of last years Tour de France winner Alberto Contador signed a petition who want to see Contador at this years Tour de France. The Contador petition in four languages was set-up by fans of the Astana rider. The people behind the petition at said: "This is an independent initiative that arises from the fans of the good cycling, but that does not depart from any team or association. We do not want to cause any controversy, we only want to show our support to Alberto Contador and to his team."

At fans of Frank Vandenbroucke will start a petition in the coming days. The VDB fans demand from the UCI that Vandenbroucke will be allowed to start at Pro-Tour races. On Friday the UCI granted his team, Mitsubishi - Jartazi a wild card for Pro-Tour events, but the team received the wild card with a condition: they are not allowed to let Frank Vandenbroucke start at UCI Pro - Tour races. The VDB fans are angry as there is no UCI rule which justifies the UCI decision.

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