The Mitchelton-Scott team gets a new sponsor, from today the team is renamed as Manuela Fundación. It’d been whispered for a while the team was in trouble, there had been wage cuts earlier in response to the Covid-19 calendar cancellation, but also doubts over the viability of the team for the long term. Now the team has a new sponsor in the Manuela Fundación, a Spanish charity funded by businessman Franciso Huertes (pictured above wearing the red shirt), and its future is secure. Or is it?
Several years ago this blog looked at the award of the track world championships to Belarus, Europe’s last dictatorship. It was a decision taken with input from a senior UCI official with a significant financial interest in a giant construction project in the capital, Minsk. Whether coincidental or not, the awarding of the worlds served to highlight the substantial conflict of interest between the UCI’s sporting interests and the business activities of Igor Makarov, the Russian oligarch behind the now-defunct Katusha team who sits at the UCI’s top table, the Management Committee. Following that another blog post looked at Turkmenistan and how Makarov had extensive business interests there and noted the UCI was often visiting too.
It’s time to review this Turkmenistan angle because it is continuing today. Having pointed out issues in a tweet the other day, here’s a blog post to explore the issues in detail…
For years French teams faced a headwind in the shape of high payroll taxes but this system is now rewarding them. Coupled with stable sponsors and home advantage when it comes to hosting the Tour de France, the three French squads in the World Tour are in a stronger position these days relative to their rivals.
“Colombia Es Pasión” by Matt Rendell
A biography of several Colombian cyclists as well as the story of modern Colombian cycling and Colombia itself, this book will enrich your understanding of many of today’s top riders and the long, arduous paths they’ve taken to reach the top of their sport.
With reports of pay cuts and unpaid wages among World Tour teams, a quick look at the bank guarantee that pro teams post with the UCI, how it works and what it can and can’t do. It’s a dry topic on the best of days but several readers have asked about it of late…
In the last few weeks we’ve seen several virtual races held online. Necessity is the mother of invention and it’s been a way for the sport to continue with all the cancelled races. It’s a poor substitute for real racing that serves only to remind us just how sophisticated a real race can be with tactics, weather and landscapes combining to create something special. Virtual racing seems designed for a limited audience but this is the start and there’s space to trial a variety of formats.
The third and final part of the series looking at the 1964 Tour de France is a look at what made it such a good Tour. If you’re in a hurry it came down to a contest between two riders and was close right until the end… but there’s more to it than that.
The Tour de France’s dates have been changed with the start pushed back two months, the plan is now to begin in Nice on Saturday 29 August and finish in Paris on Sunday 20 September. The route is unchanged. It’s just that, a date change. It buys time but all talk about the race still feels like it should be in the conditional given the public health crisis caused by Covid-19.
Part II of the series looking at the 1964 Tour de France is a stage-by-stage account of the race to show race unfolding from stage wins to accidents, punch-ups to punctures. There are the oddities of the time such as using cabbage leaves to protect against the heat, and the infamous incident of a fortune teller predicting Jacques Anquetil’s death mid-race.
The best Tour de France ever? Some say 1989, take your pick. During the 1989 Tour many knew it was an exceptional edition and reading and watching material from that year there were regular comparisons with 1964 held up as the vintage edition and reference point. With this in mind here’s a mini-series to take a look the 1964 Tour. Part I below looks at the year in general, the cycling season, the race’s route and format.