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Third TDU hopeful ruled out after rule confusion

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Belgian Bjorg Lambrecht has joined two Australian cyclists in missing out on coveted Tour Down Under starts, thanks to confusion over a rule change.

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The Tour starts today and Lotto-Soudal will be one rider down because Lambrecht is ineligible.

Lotto-Soudal appealed to cycling’s world governing body – the UCI – but said on Monday they had not received a definite answer and so would not risk starting Lambrecht.

It was to be Lambrecht’s WorldTour debut.

Last week, it emerged that rising Australian stars Chris Harper and Cyrus Monk could not join the composite UniSA team for the Tour, because of a bungle relating to the same rule change.

It involves the UCI tightening the rules surrounding the biological passport anti-doping test regime.

Now any rider can start in a WorldTour race, such as the Tour Down Under, only if he has been in the testing pool for six weeks.

Harper and Monk missed out because of an administrative mix-up, where the UCI apparently told Cycling Australia (CA) of the impending rule change last March.

But no one in charge at CA was made aware of the change until the UCI sent a reminder in December – less than six weeks before the Tour was to start.

Lotto-Soudal issued a media release on Monday, saying Lambrecht did not receive his online log-in details for the whereabouts system until mid-December – again, too late for the Tour Down Under.

He will be eligible to start in the Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road race at the end of the month.

“We came to Australia a week ago, I felt good in the group, was looking forward to my first pro season and then it’s a huge disappointment when you hear you can’t start,” Lambrecht said.

“But of course we can’t take any risk.”

CA found out about the problem in time to replace Harper and Monk in the UniSA team.

The 20th Tour Down Under team starts today with a 145km stage from Port Adelaide to Lyndoch in the Barossa Valley.

– AAP

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