For those of you following professional cycling you know that teams are selecting their final nine-man rosters for next month’s Tour De France. The Cervelo Test Team and Team Milram released their squads on June 23 and Garmin-Slipstream released their team on June 24. Astana released their roster on June 25 but not without a little controversy.
The final 2009 Tour de France roster for Astana includes Lance Armstrong, Alberto Contador, Levi Leipheimer, Andreas Klöden, Yaroslav Popovych, Haimar Zubeldia, Dmitriy Muravyev, Sergio Paulinho and Gregory Rast. The one name not on that list is American Chris Horner who has trained significantly with Lance and Levi over the last couple of months which included racing together at the Tour of the Gila and at the Nevada City Classic. The events leading up to Chris’ dismissal are explained by Chris himself here. In short, it was politics that will cause him to miss the tour this year.
Is the snubbing of Horner only the tip of the iceberg though? When Astana put together the team they did they assembled one of the most talented teams ever created that includes a combined
seven eight tour wins and multiple podium finishes. Having that much talent on one team, especially with multiple tour winners on it, has created a pressure cooker that has potential to explode. Throw in the financial woes of the team during the Giro d’Italia, the potential team takeover by another sponsor and the rumors of Cantador going to Garmin-Slipstream and you have a good ole fashioned soap opera.
Now that Horner has been left off the roster because Cantador wanted one of his “boys”, combined with the events surrounding the team over the last two months, I think we’re going to see some real fireworks during the tour. It reminds me of when Lemond and Fignon were teammates and all the drama surrounding them. I just hope the Astana soap opera doesn’t totally ruin the tour.
What do you think? Will Astana provide us more drama than racing? Did Chris Horner totally get boned?