Riders react to Tour ejections

Some of the Tour's major names react to the news of nine riders being ejected from the Tour de Franc

Some of the Tour's major names react to the news of nine riders being ejected from the Tour de Franc


T-Mobile team leader Jan Ullrich: "It's the worst thing that's happened in my career. I will need a few days to get over the shock and then I will attempt to demonstrate my innocence."

Saunier Duval's David Millar: "Although I did take dope, I am now sure of one thing - that you can win a big race without doping. I will be trying to do that from tomorrow. I have to try with all I've got, for my family, for all you members of the press, for myself. This drug hunt in Spain will be fantastic for cycling because the new generation of riders are going to be aware that doping is bad for their health and the sport."

Ag2r's Francisco Mancebo, one of those ejected: "I consider myself innocent and I have never tested positive. I'm just going to see how this all evolves now. I'm sick of this world, I am going to hang to my bike up."

Ag2r team manager Vincent Lavenu: "We came here with high hopes but unfortunately events have turned out badly. Mancebo's exclusion was inevitable. We are a team committed to the fight against doping and which respects the Tour and also our sponsor. I'm disappointed because Mancebo did not follow the code of conduct and he was mistaken in doing that."

CSC team boss Bjarne Riis: "After a meeting of all the teams this morning when we all learned about the [Operacion Puerto] dossier, we decided that Ivan [Basso] would not start the Tour because we thought he wouldn't be able to concentrate on the race with all this going on in Spain. We also thought that as one of our riders is suspected of doping it would be better for us if he didn't ride the Tour. There is no proof of doping at the moment, but it has been established he's part of the inquiry and so he is under suspect. In this situation he can't defend himself and do the Tour at the same time. Ivan has been suspended from the team until we have more information [about the inquiry]."

Caisse d'Epargne's Alejandro Valverde: "It's a major blow for cycling. Sevilla is a friend of mine and Ullrich is a major star. I hope this will be just a setback and that the race is clean and all goes well."

Five-time Tour winner Bernard Hinault: "Doping is not generalised among 400 or 500 riders, there are just 50 implicated. I hope there is a cleaning process because are not desirable for the Tour de France. They might be the favourites, but you can't make exceptions."

Marc Madiot, FDJ team manager: "It seems there were a lot of people who continued to cheat [after 1998] without impunity. But it seems they have been rumbled today. It's really good news, it's a beautiful day. This is a turning point."

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