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by Shane Stokes
February 17, 2015
Making his season debut after a very successful 2014, Rafal Majka has been named the leader of the Tinkoff-Saxo lineup for the Tour of Oman.
Majka won two stages plus the points classification in the Tour de France, and also took sixth overall in the Giro d’Italia plus two stages and the overall in the Tour de Pologne.
The 25 year old Polish rider described himself as excited to begin the season and to join the rest of the squad.
“I think we have a very strong team for Oman and it’s a privilege to have this kind of support from big riders like Bennati, Kreuziger and Breschel,” he said.
“My goal is right on top of Green Mountain. Of course, it’s my first race of the season, so it’s impossible to know exactly where I am, but I have a good feeling.”
Also part of the team is Peter Sagan, who took his third consecutive green jersey in the Tour last July. He made his own season debut this month in the Tour of Qatar and placed second twice and fourth three times on stages.
He was also sixth overall, showing his form is solid.
“I’m ready for Oman,” he said. “I had a good build up in Qatar and now it’s important for me to recover from my efforts, as it was really windy with some tough stages. It will for sure become a very exciting race with some interesting stage profiles.”
His top season goals will lie in the spring Classics in March and April, but he is keen to start winning as soon as possible.
According to directeur sportif Sean Yates, the hillier parcours in Oman should suit Sagan a lot better than the flat Qatari landscape, helping to thin the field down before the finishes.
As much as the inclusion of Majka and Sagan will attract attention, so too will the decision to have Roman Kreuziger as part of the team.
The Czech rider is still awaiting a Court of Arbitration for Sport hearing in relation to biological passport violations.
He has been under investigation since last summer for possible blood doping. Biological passport anomalies were detected by the Cycling Anti-Doping Foundation (CADF).
These relate to his time with the Astana team, namely between March 2011 until August 2011 and from April 2012 until the end of the 2012 Giro d’Italia.
Kreuziger claims that treatment for hypothyroidism is responsible for the irregular blood values, and was cleared in September by the Czech Olympic Committee.
Both the UCI and WADA were dissatisfied with the outcome and appealed the matter to CAS. The UCI is seeking a period of ineligibility of between 2 and 4 years, the disqualification of all results from March 2011 until the start of the period of ineligibility plus payment of a fine of EUR 770,000 and costs.
Kreuziger’s team claimed last month that the UCI had delayed in submitting documentation to CAS, but this was refuted by the governing body. It said that it was not at fault over the delays.
“We don’t have any date,” a UCI spokesman told CyclingTips then. “What I can tell you is that the UCI and WADA have sent our documentation to CAS. This was already done on December 8. We do not have any news or developments.
“From our end, we have done what we have to do.”
Kreuziger continues to insist he has done nothing wrong. However, whatever the eventual outcome, his inclusion in the roster highlights the need for quicker resolution of such cases.
The UCI announced last September that it was setting up a new anti-doping tribunal in order to try to cut down on delays within the current system.
This would replace national bodies in assessing cases, thus removing the danger of possible bias towards a country’s own athletes.
Decisions by that tribunal would also be appealable to CAS.