Sunday Shorts

Sunday, 18 November 2012

Gianni Meersman

Gianni Meersman had a great start to the season, proving a useful finisher with a stage win in Paris-Nice for example. Now he’s leaving Lotto-Belisol, exploiting a break clause in his contract if the squad does not make it into the World Tour for 2013. The team seem to think they will and as set out during the week on here, his ranking points count for the squad on the 20 October deadline. Now he’s gone the team get to keep his points whilst the licence is decided but are liable for a giant fine, from 10,000 to 500,000 Swiss Francs (about the same sum in US dollars) under UCI rules. Ouch.

Why? Well they have used a rider’s points only he’s now gone. But it seems the team are not to blame, they presented Meersman’s contract in good faith only because the team has not got its licence yet he’s jumped, leaving them without a good rider and possibly a large fine. He can join another team for a good contract but his valuable haul of points won’t count as its after the deadline so if he goes to Saxo as some say it won’t help their bid for a licence. It’d be odd to imagine Lotto-Belisol out of the top-18 teams in 2013, after all Jurgen Van Den Broeck was fourth overall in the Tour de France and André Greipel has won more races than another other pro in the world this year.

MPCC moves on
The Mouvement pour un cyclisme crédible is gathering more momentum as three new teams sign up, namely Bardiani-CSF (the new name for Colnago-CSF and Conti-level teams BigMat-Auber and La Pomme Marseille. Joining is the easy part, adhering to the values is harder, especially if riders are caught doping. But for now the real question is why aren’t other teams joining? What objections do the likes of Team Sky, BMC Racing or Astana have?

Le Tour piles on the Pounds
The Tour de France will start in Britain in 2014 or 2015. It’s just a question of where now with rival bids from Yorkshire and Scotland going head to head. ASO will love this as the country is next to France but offers a large untapped market and one that is receptive to the sport, unlike Germany right now. To host a grand départ needs three winning things:

  • to meet the technical requirements such as space for the media, telecommunications
  • to offer a sporting course suitable for the race
  • to put in a winning bid, probably of the order of €10-15 million

Given Britain offers big cities with hotels and telecoms and a variety of terrain for the opening stages it seems the bid will come down to a bidding war. There’s plenty to expect in return from international coverage and a gain in tourism, studies show that hosting the stage of the Tour de France brings in a multiple of the sum spent in terms of publicity and coverage although this is always subjective analysis.

Hollywood Boulevard
Thomas Voeckler is to get a street named after him in Chantonnay, a town in Western France near to his home. It’s not unique, there are other streets and squares in France named after cyclists, for example the Place Jalabert in Mazamet, the home town of the French selector and Vuelta winner Laurent Jalabert. It’s still a rarity, usually these things are awarded to the dead as Jalabert said when told of the decision. As for Voeckler, it’s a boulevard. Presumably be the Boulevard Thomas Voeckler rather than Hollywood Boulevard.

Guerilla Cycling Lanes
Finally talking of French roads and cyclists, if the theme here is usually sport, some transport news. Critical Mass activists in the town of Toulon have taken to painting their own cycle paths. A commando operation sees them strike with their paint overnight and residents awaken to find painted paths and symbols on the road. At first the town hall fought back with black paint to remove the markings but in time some of the ideas have turned into reality.

Nick November 18, 2012 at 6:46 pm

Wasn’t there some kind of agreement between teams after one of the big scandals (Festina?) about clean cycling and not hiring convicted dopers that everybody signed up for and then didn’t get adhered to and lacked any enforcement capabilities? Is that essentially what the MPCC is? I’ve been following it a bit, but can’t tell if it’s anything more than a nonbinding pledge. If that was the case then I could actually understand why some big teams aren’t signing up, especially with Sky and their zero tolerance idea. Could be that they’re already doing what the MPCC calls for or they see it as just a PR move and would rather spend their efforts (and $) elsewhere.

The Inner Ring November 18, 2012 at 7:09 pm

Yes, the teams had one but it fell apart after Discovery and then Liquigas broke the pact by signing Ivan Basso. Later we saw the UCI rule waiving its own rules after three Lampre riders were busted in the same season, a situation that should have got the team suspended.

MPCC offers these things plus more, for example riders taking cortico-steroids must rest away from competition and more. As we see, it’s good to sign up but the test comes whether a team will follow the rules if something goes wrong and willingly impose a punishment on itself.

BC November 18, 2012 at 7:44 pm

The question of SKY and the MPCC is indeed rather strange. At the current rate of progress SKY will find itself in a small group which includes Katusha, Astana and Movistar ! I would suggest not the best company to be keeping in the present circumstances. BMC – well there are a few questions that need answering by their management/sponsor – pot and kettle sort of problem. If Brailsford has a reason for absenting the team, then there are only a couple of possibilities. If only for good PR, it would be best for SKY to catch the last train.

Toe Strap November 18, 2012 at 7:51 pm

Loved the link to the Toulon story! Great way of getting some decent facilities. Get some mates, a pot of paint and change YOUR road network!!!!

Then invite the press to the official opening.

Duncan November 18, 2012 at 9:53 pm

Good for Voeckler but an award before retiring? Are his best days behind him now?

The Inner Ring November 18, 2012 at 11:39 pm

He’s still got a few years left. All his rivals know his game but they still get beaten sometimes. He’s local to the area and gets some more recognition.

Shawn November 19, 2012 at 3:50 am

Yet another nutty rule: your riders are free to break their contract if the UCI hasn’t yet given a license but are then the team is penalized because the rules require them to keep points of the rider who left.

PS I was also kind of surprised that Lotto ranked so low given what seemed like a pretty good year in terms of total number of wins.

Rod November 19, 2012 at 2:55 pm

I agree – it seems completely bizarre that Lotto are struggling when Greipel has been such a force! They offer a lot in races whereas it could be argued other teams offer a lot less and still seem to be guaranteed WT status!

THa November 19, 2012 at 6:26 pm

Greipel had a good year, Van den Broeck got Top GC in Tour, Dauphine and Catalunya, but after that their(Lotto) results were pretty dire! Who are the other 10 riders whose points will go to their tally, Vanendert (3x Top 10s in the Ardennes), Bak (Giro Stage win) and Roelandts (handful of minor UCI Europe wins)? Meersman was probably one of their best points scorers.
I like Lotto as a team but they don’t offer much to the Giro, or Vuelta.
That said you do get to ‘scraping the barrel’ a bit once you get outside the Big 11 teams in the World Tour.

James November 19, 2012 at 6:10 am

Is that a fact about a uk grand depart? Cause that is great for the uk. interestingly the Scotland bid is British cycling backed, and plans for route starting in Edinburgh and making its way through England and Wales before back to France. Whereas the Yorkshire bid is national fedaration backed and presumably just will be around Yorkshire. BC allegedly asked the Yorkshire team to join the national bid but wanted the first stage. (From an interview on the bbc World Cup coverage this weekend)

James November 19, 2012 at 6:12 am

Corrention the Yorkshire bid isn’t national fedaration backed

Dan November 19, 2012 at 11:38 am

IIRC, the Yorkshire bid would involve a stage finish in Cambridge, and then a return to France from Stansted Airport.

Nancy November 20, 2012 at 1:19 am

How Garmin-Sharp can still be part of MPCC after they signed Dekker last year? Also, why they can still be part of the MPCC since 3-4 riders and the DS are supposed to be banned for doping and the team didn’t care about their past doping?

It looks to me this MPCC as bullship or a brillant PR!

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