The volcanic ash cloud that has drifted across Northern Europe from Iceland in recent days, causing airports in the UK and the Continent to shut down, has had a knock-on effect on pro cycling, with Team Sky announcing that Bradley Wiggins has been forced to miss this weekend’s Amstel Gold race due to being stranded in Spain. Wiggins will not be the only big name missing due to the dust cloud, Cervelo Test Team have announced that Carlos Sastre won't be on the start line either.
Although Team Sky's Chris Froome was also affected and had to drive up from Tuscany, the UK ProTour team says that a number of its cyclists arrived in Maastricht, where the race starts, earlier this week to recce the route, meaning it will have seven riders on the start line in Maastricht to tomorrow, more than the minimum six required.
On its website, Team Sky claimed that this meant that it was better prepared for tomorrow’s race than many of the other 23 teams, saying “Kjell Carlström, Russell Downing, Simon Gerrans and Davide Viganò all went there direct from Wednesday's Brabantse Pijl in Belgium and they were joined by Lars-Petter Nordhaug and Mathew Hayman.”
Cervelo will have to do without Carlos Sastre and their Ukranian rider Volodimir Gustov.
“We had most of our riders already in The Netherlands as they arrived before the Brabantse Pijl that took place last Wednesday” said Joop Alberda, General Manager. “The flights yesterday for Sastre, Gustov and Xavier Tondo (ESP) where cancelled; for Tondo we found a solution to come by car and for Sastre and Gustov, we where depending on the airports opening today but we just received word that all the major airports around Maastricht will be closed until 20.00h tonight."
Carlos Sastre will start, if all the airport problems are solved, in La Flèche Wallonne on Wednesday which was not originally scheduled on his program. "I have a flight on Tuesday and by then hopefully we will not have anymore problems” said Carlos Sastre. “Tomorrow, I will train twice as hard as compensation for the Amstel Gold Race.”
Airspace restrictions across Europe have meant that teams competing in the race, the first of this year’s Ardennes Classics, have had to resort to ground transport to get their riders to The Netherlands.
On the Amstel Gold website, race director Lei van Vliet said: "This is force majeure. Nothing can be done against this."
He added: "Several teams have contacted our organisation and they are already taking all possible measures so that they can be [here] on time. That is clever. My opinion is that the problem will solve itself, but most important is that the ash cloud disappears soon."
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.