Le Tour reiterated its desire to exclude Astana and defending champ Alberto Contador today, in the face of apparent pressure to include the newly-minted Giro d'Italia champion. Tour owners ASO are holding fast in their determination to punish the team with a year out of the loop for its' predecessors' transgressions the last two years (oh, just Operacion Puerto and the Vino & Kash doping incidents). No news here.
There is more info in the Cycling Weekly article, which confirms that the race will be held under French Cycling Federation rules rather than the UCI's, and that the biological passports will not be consulted. Instead, ASO seeks to set up a complete alternate universe using blood, urine and hair sample spot-testing for its controls. The nonsense continues.
UPDATE: A pox on both their houses:
"Riders and teams by competing will expose themselves to sanctions through the fault of ASO leaders," the UCI said.
"ASO have shown that they intend to follow their own rules in the framework of a structure created by themselves. This year they are going to deprive the titleholder (Alberto Contador) of defending his title.
"UCI regards the fight against such tendencies as fundamental," the statement added.
Contador, for his part, is using the occasion of his Giro win to pursue a historic Triple Crown - winning the Tour, Giro and Vuelta - in a mere 14-month period. While several riders have won all three, Bernard Hinault holds the record for sweeping the grand tours in the briefest period: 26 months. Contador will be an overwhelming favorite to pull off a new standard this September.