Archive for the ‘Opinion’ Category

Get Over It, Robbie

It wouldn't be easy to out-sprint a top quality field of professional cyclists whilst hampered by a bottom lip that is dragging so low it occasional gets caught under your front wheel, but Robbie McEwen achieved it to win the 3rd stage of the Eneco Tour. His jubilation after crossing the finish line was underwhelming to say the least but at least he thanked his team-mates for their outstanding lead out that virtually forced him across the line in first place.

Unfortunately, McEwen has decided it's a case of job done and chose to lie doggo at the rear of the peloton with another dose of the sulks as the sprinters of the other teams actually went out and earned their salary and contested the stage 4 sprint.

If he was looking for a reason why he has been left out of the team for the Vuelta he need go no further than that little performance right there. Why would a sponsor prefer a guy who may or may not decide to contest a stage for the final 20 seconds over a guy who will likely be in the spotlight for hours at a time, day after day. Short answer: they haven't.

I've long been an admirer of McEwen for his competitive drive and flat out speed but right now it's all getting a bit much. Robbie, it's time to build yourself a bridge and get over it, mate!!!

You Can’t Beat Cycling Blogs

We're less than a week out from the Vuelta a Espana and the teams have been named, the starlists have been released and we're all getting excited again. 

The Vuelta startlist has been given the fine tooth comb treatment at Cycling Fans Anonymous with the main contenders singled out both in the overall GC and Sprint categories. I thought the post included a very pertinent comment to take note of about the hypocritical nature of the Vuelta organisers to pull the Astana invitation only to insert suspect Spanish wildcards Karpin Galicia and Relax-Gam.

Further on the preponderence of tainted or suspect athletes in the Continental Tour teams, Cyclocosm has pointed out just where some questionable riders have disappeared to in his call to revise the UCI Pro Tour. He makes the very good point that it would be in cycling's best interest if these cheats were still under the spotlight of attention that comes with riding in the UCI Pro Tour.

Lots of good meaty reading at Racejunkie again this week and  I've got to agree wholeheartedly with the Levi Leipheimer for Slipstream thoughts. Levi's looking for a new team, Slipstream haven't yet secured a possible Grand Tour contender, surely the dots aren't that difficult to connect. While visiting with Racejunkie there is plenty of great reading as Bjarne Riis' memory and CONI's Petacchi hunt was commented on on Thursday; the Greg LeMond "tell it like I think it should be" blast / Iban Mayo watch / Robbie McEwen's dragging bottom lip on Friday.

The Floyd Landis (non-)ruling has been occupying the thoughts and blog over at Rant Your Head Off with the impatience palpable last Thursday as a decision is awaited. By Saturday that impatience was tempered in another Rant by the reasoning that it would be better to get a fair verdict rather than a fast one, as difficult as waiting for it might be. Hear, hear. I've got to say, though...and perhaps it's because I'm not American, but I can't say that I've given the whole Floyd Landis situation very much thought at all (unlike Oscar Pereiro, I'm sure). A spirited discussion just the same in both posts and well worth the reading.

Rasmussen’s New Pro Tour Team

Michael Rasmussen has been causing a stir by making appearances at criteriums around the place, notably at Pijnacker in Holland, with fans loving it, crit organisers sympathetic and media feasting off it. The audacity of his choice of clothing, wearing the yellow jersey, knicks, helmet causing the most chat - and criticism.

When asked about his future Rasmussen said:

I want to continue to ride but I do not know yet if I will still form part of a ProTour formation next year I can sign where I want...I have had contact with a series of teams. Which? I won't say, but I hope to have returned for the Giro di Lombardia”

Well, this got me to thinking, trying to come up with a list of Pro Tour teams that Rasmussen might sign with. Right off the bat, the "I can sign where I want" statement is smashed to smithereens, but just how wide is his choice?

Let's start off with the full list of 20 Pro Tour teams and start whittling the field away for him. 

It's certainly not going to be Rabobank or Team CSC with Rabobank being the team that has released him from his contract after the 2007 Tour de France and Team CSC already having their experience with him. (Snip, snip - 18 teams)

Obviously Discovery Channel and Unibet are out seeing as they won't be here next year. (Trim, trim - 16 teams)

He's not Basque so he won't be going to Eskaltel - Euskadi. (15 teams)

With the forthright anti-doping exhortations being made by the T-Mobile Team it's difficult to see them jostling to get his signature - why would they risk bringing a liar to their team. (14 teams)

I would think Astana similarly have had their fill of controversy for the time being and wouldn't be going out of their way to add him to their list. (13 teams)

By the looks of things Predictor - Lotto are bolstering their team by heading in other directions, building a squad around Cadel Evans and, likewise, Caisse D'Epargne are throwing themselves behind Alejandro Valverde. (11 teams)

Now I'm going to do a little wild speculation on behalf of a few teams...

Based on the fact that Team Milram is centred around their 2 sprinters, Alessandro Petacchi and Erik Zabel they would haardly want to divide the team's responsibilities by having to ride hard to protect a jersey. Likewise, Quickstep do all their hard work catching break aways for Tom Boonen and Credit Agricole do a similar job for Thor Hushovd so they'd be unlikely to come knocking on Rasmussen's door. (Like I said, wild speculation). (8 teams)

Lampre-Fondital strikes me as a team of sprinters / classic riders. Guys like Baldato, Bennati Ballan and Napolitano being present and currently prominent in big races could mean they would have trouble justifying signing a guy like Rasmussen. (7 teams)

I think maybe for the rest of the teams it could come down to which team can afford the kind of money a Grand Tour contender would command. Given the circumstances under which he has parted company with Rabobank his price would have to be a little cheaper, but still pretty high compared to many other riders.

I can see a pretty good fit with a couple of the remaining teams who would see Rasmussen as an ideal complement to their existing teams. Gerolsteiner possibly...or maybe Saunier Duval or even Liquigas with Danilo Di Luca.

So which out of AG2R Prevoyance, Liquigas, Bouygues Telecom, Saunier Duval, Francaise des Jeux, Gerolsteiner or Cofidis would be able to afford him?

Robbie McEwen’s Not A Happy Chappy

Robbie McEwen chucked a bit of a tanty during the week over his team's decision to leave him out of the team to contest the Vuelta a Espana. Predictor - Lotto have finally come to their senses and realised that, with an honest to goodness GC contender in their team, it would be wiser to concentrate on winning the overall GC rather than be a team with two diminished missions. Essentially, they have finally given Cadel Evans 100% support and said, "We'll ride this tour in support of you."

Robbie's been top dog at Predictor - Lotto for a long time now and, being a typical sprinter, is only willing to be a team man if he's the beneficiary of the teamwork.

In a true show of selfishness Robbie has petulantly pointed out to that "There are 11 flat stages in the Vuelta, and our team goes there with absolutely no sprinter. That is not good planning."

Hmmm, yeah Robbie, I'll bet Discovery Channel, Team CSC and Caisse D'Epargne are really kicking themselves for failing to field sprinters and instead, going for GC honours in the Grand Tour events. I mean, those teams have really suffered by throwing their energy behind their big men, haven't they? What could they be thinking?

Now if the news is true about Predictor - Lotto's plans to sign up Levi Leipheimer as a general classification helper for Cadel Evans, Robbie would have to be choking on his Wheaties. The focus of the team has moved from being content with McEwen picking up stage wins to taking out the General Classification.

Friday View From Down Here

It's nice to see that sanity has prevailed in the potentially explosive situation that saw Elk Haus-Simplon removed from the Tour of Germany before it had even begun. The right legal channels were explored, the judge issued a preliminary injunction that gives them a start. The Austrian Pro Continental Tour team can now get down to the business of giving it all on the road.

Let's just hope things settle down in Germany and we can settle down and enjoy some cycling instead of these pointless, knee-jerk reactions from governing bodies more intent on seeming to take the hard line rather than actually achieving anything of value. The German television boycott of the Tour de France was about as pointless and ridiculous as anything I have heard in quite some time. A German cyclist is caught cheating so the rest of the country's cycling fans are penalised...huh?

It seems to me that, rather than formulate a cohesive strategy to combat drug cheats in the sport, we've got agencies, associations and organising committees jumping to make impulsive decisions all for the so-called greater good of the sport. The halfwitted organisers of the Hamburg Cyclassics race on August 19, who announced that Alberto Contador would not be welcome at their event deserve a good solid uppercut and a reminder that perhaps they could pull their heads in for a second and try and do something that would benefit cycling.

The finger pointing between the UCI and the ASO has got to stop and it's got to stop before they do some real damage to their showpiece event. Apart from getting plain sick and tired of the constant wrangling by people who are old enough to know better, it's getting in the way of the important job of continuing to clean up the sport.


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