Armstrong’s popularity plummets, ranked alonside Michael Bolton
Dallasnews.com tries to offer some metrics on Armstrong’s falling popularity. Clearly retirement meant he became less visible but last week’s revelations have punctured his public image.
Now he’s ranked 2,192 (out of 2,500 celebrities tracked by the Dallas agency) on par with Michael Bolton. As for endorsement value, he once was in there with Brad Pitt, slipped to Steven Spielberg, and now is neck-n-neck with foul-mouthed singer Nicky Minaj. People trust him about as much as they do Paula Abdul.
This might be amusing but there’s a serious point to this as well. If he begins to fall then don’t be surprised to see the media tear strips off him. Just as his rise was chronicled, now there’s a chance his downfall takes place in front of cameras, gossip mags and websites.
Warren Barguil’s New Jersey
One rider with the future ahead of him is France’s Warren Barguil who has just won the Tour de l’Avenir overall. And the mountains jersey. And the points jersey. And a stage win.
He’s from Brittany but with the build of a climber, suited to racing on the other side of France and beyond. Vélo Magazine recounts how Christian Guiberteau, one of the managers at Argos Oil-Shimano, was following the Tour de L’Ain last year and as he followed a breakaway on the Grand Colombier with its 14% slopes he spotted a rider coming across “he was wearing a white jersey and with his build and his climbing style I thought it was another Colombian“, only it was Barguil and he won the best young rider prize ahead of Thibaut Pinot and Romain Bardet.
Comparisons with Pinot are inevitable but they’re different riders. But Barguil has spent this year with French amateur team CC Etupes where he is coached by Julien Pinot – brother of Thibaut – and it is said he has the same excellent powers of recovery. He’s also not afraid to attack, in fact perhaps his greatest weakness is how often he attacks but this is also a positive too. Guiberteau has signed Barguil for Argos Oil-Shimano and he’s a name to watch for the following years. “French hope” is a weight to carry but there’s a generation of riders coming through now who can share the load. If they continue to progress they can change the shape of French cycling.
Riis against time
Back to the past because sometimes you just can’t escape it. Armstrong’s not alone in having trouble with the scandal this week. Clearly the UCI have some explaining to do but others in the sport risk being swept up by the tidal wave of scandal. After Tyler Hamilton’s new book sees the ex-rider claim Danish team boss Bjarne Riis put him in touch with doping doctor Eufemiano Fuentes, Riis has said he doesn’t know Fuentes.
In a hypothetical case if a team manager was involved in an organised doping program then he could well face a life ban from the sport. Interestingly in Riis’s autobiography “Stages of Light and Dark” he writes about Basso’s involvement with the same doctor:
“All our riders had accepted that they were only to use our team doctors when they signed their contracts. If Ivan had worked with Fuentes, then he had broken his contract…”
There were a lot of contractual breeches on the team then. And when Frank Schleck was caught wiring money to Fuentes he was kept on the team. But that was some time ago and it shows that the past can come back to bite some.
Finally a self-referential house keeping note to say I’ll be away for next week and so things will slow down on here. Internet access permitting there should be daily Vuelta previews, a special guest review of Tyler Hamilton’s book “Secret Race” and a give-away competition with several prizes for the winner and more.