Argentina is becoming the nation of choice for disgruntled one-day specialists, as Spain’s Perdiguer
PICTURE BY TIM DE WAELE Davide Rebellin wasn’t the only leading rider who was disappointed with his country’s selection policy for the Olympics and Worlds. The flamboyant Spanish rider Miguel Angel Martin Perdiguero has enjoyed his best season ever and still couldn’t make it into an admittedly very strong Spanish team for the Verona Worlds two weeks ago. Now it seems Perdiguero may be following Rebellin’s example in seeking cycling sanctuary in Argentina. According to El Diario Vasco, Perdiguero has one major advantage over Rebellin in that he has discovered he has an aunt who is Argentinian. Consequently, Tour of Catalonia and San Sebastian Classic winner Perdiguero is investigating the possibility of taking on dual nationality to increase his chances of selection for next year’s world championships in his home town of Madrid. Angel Buenache, who is director of the San Sebastian de los Reyes cycling school that produced Perdiguero and several other pros and is still close to the Saunier Duval team leader, confirmed this move is being investigated by the rider. “We’ve discovered, and we’re not joking about this, that he has an Argentinian aunt, so we’ve taken the first steps towards trying to get nationality for him. There is plenty of time for us to achieve this and I don’t think we will have any problems doing so,” said Buenache. Ultimately, Rebellin was prevented from riding in Verona more because of the lateness with which his switch of nationality was taken than to any permanent procedural problem, and his UCI points should enable Argentina to start with a much larger team next year than the single rider they fielded this. If Perdiguero does make the switch as well, not only will Argentina have two strong leaders for their team, but they should be able to back them with a fair number of support riders. The chances of all of this happening are increased by next year’s reduction in the maximum size of the main teams at the Worlds from 12 to nine riders. Even with Spain having an extra selection because they have the world champion in Oscar Freire, Perdiguero is still going to find it difficult to find a way into the team with Freire, Alejandro Valverde and Igor Astarloa all in his way, and (the ironically Argentinian-born) Juan Antonio Flecha and Santiago Perez emerging fast. Italy’s Gilberto Simoni has been talking about a similar move, with Austria apparently angling for the two-time Giro winner. And you have to wonder whether other countries might benefit as well. Max Sciandri made many appearances for Britain and won a bronze medal at the Atlanta Olympics on the basis of Derby being his birth place, while there has been talk of trying to persuade Reading-born Italian Dario Cioni to follow suit. And there must surely be one or two Aussies with British parentage who could be persuaded to follow the same route. Any suggestions on other potential migrants? A top pro who once had a long layover at Heathrow perhaps?