This year’s Vuelta has been very exciting so far: the red jersey is going from one rider to the other and therefore we still don’t know who’s going to win. Despite all the exciting daily stages, there’s happening much more in the Vuelta though than what we get to see on tv. A lot of riders were ill and there was the sudden death of Sky masseur Txema González. At the moment the positivity seemed to return, there was some other striking news. Andy Schleck and Stuart O’Grady (both from Team Saxo Bank) had to leave the Vuelta. No, they weren’t involved in a nasty crash or finished too late… Bjarne Riis decided to sent them home because they “violated team rules by drinking alcohol after dinner”.
Yes, drinking alcohol during a tour… and ofcourse rules are rules, simple. Andy even gave a reaction in which he says he respects these rules: “I’m responsible for my actions and even though I think it is too harsh a decision, I respect that Bjarne is the boss and he needs to do what he thinks is the best.” Case closed you’d think… but no. Then all the rumours came along and the case turned into a true media soap! According to one journalist the boys were out until 5 in the morning, another one claims it was 2 o’clock and others say midnight.
Stuart O’Grady then opened his mouth to the Australian press: “We stepped out of the team hotel at 10pm and stopped for a couple of beers at a bar in the local piazza. We had two beers, that’s all. Some members of the European press over here have made us sound like we were on the drink all night. That’s simply not true. […] The decision to pull us out of the race was harsh.”
Riis then gave his version of the story: “Whether it’s one glass or ten, at 5 a.m., it’s inexcusable. I’ve done what I had to do. The rules of the team are the same for everyone. We are professionals and we have to act professionally. I had to take this decision. It’s up to them to assume the consequences of what they’ve done.” So… who’s telling the truth? I guess we’ll never know. There’s one thing we know for sure though: Team Saxo Bank continues the race without Andy Schleck and Stuart O’Grady… and Fränk Schleck has to chase after the red jersey without the help of his younger brother…
Now we cannot help but wonder: was the beer worth it?