British Embassy in Rome still has riders' passports from Giro d'Italia visa applications...

Team Colombia has been forced to pull out of the Tour of Turkey, which starts tomorrow, saying that it cannot travel because the British Embassy in Rome still has its riders’ passports. The documents had been submitted earlier this month as part of its application for visas for the Giro d’Italia Big Start in Northern Ireland in a fortnight’s time.

As we reported yesterday, two separate batches of visa applications were made, one on 10 April, the other on 14 April, with the team paying extra to have them fast-tracked, and the process expected to take five days.

However, the UCI Professional Continental team’s press officer, David Evangalista, told road.cc today: “Regretfully, Team Colombia will not be able to start at the Tour of Turkey tomorrow, as the team officially announced to the race organisation yesterday.

“In spite of the utter availability and co-operation by Tour of Turkey’s director, Ahmet Ozgan, who was ready to reschedule our travel until the last second, the UK Embassy did not give the team a chance to get back in possession of the riders’ passports in time, so Team Colombia had no other chance than withdrawing.”

“Actually, the UK Embassy gave the team no real information about where the passports are, when they are going to be returned and why they are being withheld well more than the predicted five days (due to urgency procedure).”

With the Giro d’Italia starting in Belfast on Friday 9 May, the clock is now ticking for the visas to be secured and passports returned in time for the team to depart for Northern Ireland.

road.cc contacted the British Embassy in Rome for a statement yesterday but phone calls went unanswered and we received no reply to an email.

Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.