Saunier drop Gil from Vuelta team

Saunier Duval have made a late change to their Vuelta line-up, dropping Bicicleta Vasca winner Koldo

Saunier Duval have made a late change to their Vuelta line-up, dropping Bicicleta Vasca winner Koldo

PIC BY SAUNIER DUVAL

Saunier Duval have dropped Koldo Gil from their line-up for the Vuelta, starting tomorrow, after the Spanish rider was implicated in the Puerto affair. Gil, winner of the Bicicleta Vasca race back in June, had travelled to Malaga for the start of the race and is believed to have successfully passed through the pre-event blood testing undertaken on all riders, but is now set to be replaced by Jos Alberto Benitez.

Saunier team manager Fernandez Matxin said that the move was a precautionary measure on their part, and is similar to the one made by Phonak before the Tour de France when they dropped Santiago Botero and Jos Enrique Gutierrez from their prospective line-up after they were implicated in the same Puerto inquiry.

"We have received no communiqu from the UCI preventing his selection," said Matxin. "Nevertheless, we know that there is an investigation being conducted into him, as was revealed in AS, because in the Guardia Civil's report is a document from Eufemiano Fuentes which says: 'Prepare a sporting programme for Koldo Gil and Alberto Contador'. He is not officially implicated but we don't want to take the risk of having to force him to quit during the race, creating a problem which would rebound on us because the incident stems from his time with Liberty Seguros."

Contador has also been dropped from his Astana team's line-up for the Vuelta, although his absence officially stems from his recent collapse after a stage of the Tour of Burgos. Gil, too, has had injury worries in recent weeks after breaking his wrist on July 4 while training. He had already admitted his form was not good going into the Vuelta as he had just 10 days of training under his belt.

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