Sunday Shorts

Armstrong’s popularity plummets, ranked alonside Michael Bolton 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.

Warren B regulates the race

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.

Slow Service
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.

30 thoughts on “Sunday Shorts”

  1. Ahem, Inrng I don’t want to have to be the one to tell you but I think you might be a blog-aholic.

    If this is slowing down: “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.” I think you need to rethink your idea of relaxing. 😉

    (That’s my way of saying you’re awesome. Now if only I can get the answer right in the damned competitions…)

  2. If Tyler Hamilton and Frank Schleck shared a doctor, I would have thought it was Luigi Cecchini and not Fuentes. Cecchini’s collaboration with CSC through 2005 is not a secret, and this coincided with both Hamilton and Schleck’s time on the team. The end of Cecchini’s relationship with CSC coincides with Fran Schleck’s wiring of 7000 Euros to Fuentes in March 2006. This, together with Hamilton’s account of how Riis introduced him to Cecchini, suggests that riders on CSC were being pointed in Fuentes’ direction.

    It is interesting that Riis today says “I do not know Fuentes. I have never met him.” Frank Schleck, after wiring Fuentes 7000 Euros, said the same thing: He “has never received, nor made use of any services from these people – including Eufemiano Fuentes, whom he has never met.”

    • Indeedy – Cecchini is the link man. I’m not entirely sure we should refer to him a ‘Dr’ though! I think he is qualified as a sport scientist (not medical doctor), but in Italian the term ‘dottore’ also applies to graduates, not just PhDs. I suspect he’s a prepartore. His list of clients is head-shakingly depressing for anyone who’s loved to watch bike races over the last 20yrs.

      Riis obviously ‘prepared’ with Cecchini in 96, although always claimed he sourced and administered his own PEDs. He continued to then work with and employ Cecchini in his teams for almost the next decade – I hope the revelations coming in the next couple of weeks ably demonstrate how these relationships actually worked in practise!

      Riis latest denial is probably the thinest of all the denials he’s ever issues around Fuentes/Puerto – the language is getting narrower and narrower all the time. I hope more than a dew journalises are currently looking back at the quotes around Frank’s payments to Fuentes? Riss’s comments then might be judged in a whole new light soon….

  3. Have a great break Inrng. Barguil looks very good and I’m happy that Argos-Shimano signed him. Nobody likes talent stockpiling in our sport (yes, I’m happy that Cav is leaving Sky).

  4. Yes, if only his name was ‘Warren G’arguil then he really could ‘Regulate’. Sorry INRNG. It’s Monday morning: at work, not had a coffee yet, its very sunny outside and I want to be on my bike. Bah humbug.

  5. Thanks for mentioning Warren Barguil, bright star for the future. Classy rider. Surprised he didn’t sign with a French team. At least Shimano-Argos seems to have an anti-doping stance. Just hope he doesn’t fade like Romain Sicard after his Tour de l’Avenir win.

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