AP/ESPN has the first we've seen that Astana, and defending champ Contador are not invited to the Tour.
Also at CyclingNews and VeloNews. Astana is unique in the snub, as the other teams turned down by the Giro are invited to the ASO events. We might conclude that the ASO (a) does not like Bruyneel; (b) can carry a grudge; (c) the healing has not begun.
The VeloNews also posts Alberto Contador's reaction to the news that the ASO has snubbed Astana along with expanded commentary on the subject:
Should the ASO decision stand up, and should Bruyneel’s Astana team not start this year’s Tour, then not only will defending champ Contador and potential winners Leipheimer and Andreas Klöden be deprived of their chances at further Tour glory, but the Tour itself will lose even more of its credibility.
That point was echoed by (Johan) Bruyneel, who said in a prepared statement: “Unfortunately, the Tour de France will lose now much of its credibility by not letting participate some of the world’s best riders, who were never implicated in doping scandals.”
The Santa Rose Press Democrat outlines the extensive anti-doping program being instituted by this year's organizers of the Tour of California. Some, including Dr. Don Catlin formerly of the USADA lab at UCLA, have expressed concerns about the implementation of this program:
"AEG will pass the riders' names on to USA Cycling, who then passes the information to USADA (the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency)," Catlin said. "Where's the independence? You want the collectors to be independent ... They should report to someone outside the racing system."
The VeloNews tells of the anxiety felt by many teams as today's Paris-Nice invitation announcement is anticipated:
ASO officials so far have remained mum, but there’s speculation that if teams are left out of next month’s Paris-Nice, they won’t be invited for the Tour. Participation in Paris-Nice, however, is no guarantee of a berth in the Tour as ASO still holds the cards when final invitations are issued in the coming weeks.
One sport director told VeloNews this week that the situation is “intolerable for the teams. Riders cannot plan their seasons. Sponsors cannot expect return on their investment. It’s bad for the image of cycling.”
The NY Times insinuates that today's hearing before the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform concerning the Mitchell Report, in which Roger Clemens and Brian MacNamee will testify, will not be pretty.
Rant rambles about the US bringing more than just its athletes to the "Games" this summer in China. Rant also notes some new revelations that muscle fatigue may be caused by a different mechanism than previously thought.
Racejunkie reviews the crazy mixed up pot pouri that is the selection process for cycling's races this year as many pro teams anxiously wait out the announcements for Paris-Nice. RJ also "reviews" the new book about Marco Pantani.
SDA says cross country skiers can bonk just like Floyd Landis did on Stage 16 of the 2006 TdF.
WADA Watch has a bunch of recent postings, a correction on a technical point, some calendar items regarding a lad director meeting in Paris, and a media workshop a little later.
Sara Best thinks that cycling fans need to "be there" for baseball fans as they start out on the journey that we have been on for what seems like forever.
Chris as Podium Cafe writes about "Astana Armageddon" and clearly thinks that ASO's reasons for excluding the team may be a combination of retribution and deterrence.
Montee la Haut feels that ever since Lance Armstrong retired cycling seems to be broken.