Thursday Shorts

Saxo-Bank boss Lars Seier was next to Bjarne Riis and Alberto Contador to announce his team would be increasing its funding for the team in 2014 which will be Team Saxo Bank althogh he’s welcome to a co-sponsor.

Bjarne Riis seems to have unique survival powers, like some computer game character with infinite lives. Every time he’s faced with trouble he seems to pull through when others would have been banned, suspended, bankrupted, hounded or more. It’s also a good marketing opportunity for Saxo Bank who show they stand by Riis in tough times, the opposite of Oleg Tinkov who’s supposed to be taking his (t)roubles to Cannondale.

King for another year
Ted King will be riding with Cannondale in 2014 according to his agent Joao Correia, the former Cervélo Test Team rider.

Less than secret agent
Talking of agents, Chris Horner’s agent is reputed to be touting around the American for €750,000 a year according to Europcar manager Jean-René Bernaudeau. He also said he was offered Michele Scarponi but would not be interested. Scarponi had been linked to the French team in a few stories published online but this looks like mischief-making from the agent to pretend there’s lots of interest and therefore create more demand and interest.

LL’s cool pay day
Another rider looking for a job is Luis-Léon Sanchez after Team Belkin paid him to leave, effectively paying him the rest of his contract in order to ride off into the sunset and prevent future embarrassment given his links to doping stories. But there’s good and bad here, Belkin get rid of a liability in some senses but note Sanchez has never been convicted of anything. So he’s sent packing despite no conviction. Of course had be been formally charged or suspended then the team could fire him without a payout but the mere news that he’s not deemed employable is a hit to his reputation.

Is Sanchez laughing all the way to the bank?

We don’t know the terms of the deal were but there’s talk Sanchez has an offer from another World Tour team. It could be that Belkin’s money (actually Rabobank’s money from way back) is then used to pay his salary on a new team. Or it could be the jackpot where Sanchez has banked the Dutch money and can now move to a new team for an extra salary. Great for him but it means he’d profit from all the bad stories. And the new team, if it were to happen, would welcome a rider that another team thinks is unfit although this is not new given departures from Team Sky following their zero tolerance purge. It’s an ethical minefield.

The future of Global Cycling Promotions is under review in the UCI. The UCI’s contract to run the Tour of Beijing ends next year and it’ll take a miracle to recover the money lost so far from the UCI’s disastrous venture in event promotion. Hopefully someone in the business of race promotion will take over, it’s well-known that ASO and RCS are keen to acquire assets – ie bike races – abroad, in fact ASO is already providing a lot of the organisational support in Beijing.

Move the Tour of Beijing?
It’s just a quick thought but it’s hard to get excited about the Tour of Beijing. The race starts tomorrow and ends a season where even armchair fans get fatigue. So what if it was moved on the calendar to February? Too cold of course. But a race in February comes after the winter pause so it feels new and exciting, a chance to see the fresh kits, bikes and some racing again.

Le Pavé
One thing the Tour of Beijing lacks is a famous road. No problems for the Tour de France which looks likely to use some of the Paris-Roubaix cobbled sections next summer according to local newspaper La Voix du Nord.

Where’s Matthew Goss?

Some riders might want the season to end. Tyler Farrar’s win the other day in the Tour de l’Eurométropole saw him take his second win of the year. That’s not much for a sprinter but it’s one more win than Orica-Greenedge’s Matt Goss. The 2011 Milan-Sanremo winner joined the Australian team on a big contract but success hasn’t come so easy with only one stage in Tirreno-Adriatico this year. A versatile rider who can get over some shorter hills before sprinting, hopefully he’ll be back in 2014 but rivalling the likes of Mark Cavendish, Marcel Kittel and André Greipel seems a big ask.

Where’s Pat McQuaid?
The former UCI President was spotted in Kazakhstan at the recent Tour of Almaty race.

Kimmage Refund
On the subject of McQuaid’s absence, donors to the Kimmage fund can now get a share of their money back. By now you might know that one of the fund’s managers took control of the money and a big fuss kicked off. Rightly so given the sum of money involved and since it was given in charity and on trust. There’s now a website run by the “UCI Overlord” to collect names in order for a refund at but the jury seems to be out on this. If you’ve given your details and got some cash back, let me know and then we broadcast that the refund process works. If not there is a court action being led by a volunteer to recover the money for everyone too.

The good news here is that the UCI has dropped the lawsuit.

Sheryl Crow and Lance Armstrong
When dating Armstrong, apparently singer-musician Sheryl Crow witnessed Armstrong do a blood transfusion in 2004. Is this why her 2005 album “Wildflower” included songs like “I know why” and “Perfect lie”?

38 thoughts on “Thursday Shorts”

  1. Thanks for the update on the Kimmage fund. I’ve asked for my $50 back but 70% is all they’re offering. I won’t be holding my breath for any of it. The Sanchez issue is interesting, perhaps a fund can be established to pay the rest of the dopers to leave the sport? There doesn’t seem to be any other way to get rid of them. How and why a guy like Mr. 60% is still involved in the sport is a sad legacy of the Mr. Mars/Mad Hatter era. Let’s hope Cookson’s true to his rhetoric about cleaning things up, including getting rid of all the conflict-of-interest issues. Will anyone pony up 750K for “Grandpa Horner” as he’s called in the October issue of Bicisport? Juan Cobo has shown that being the winner of La Vuelta isn’t worth much these days.

    • Com’on Larry. Enough is enough. You are a realistic guy, not a dreamer, aren’t you.
      What do you think, which percentage of the persons involved in pro road cycling now would remain if everybody who was once involved in doping during his career had to leave the sport?
      Of course there would still be enough young and possibly clean racers to fill up the pelotons but there would not be many teams left. Because it takes more than riders for a professional cycling team.
      Did benign Grandpa kill other young men during the war? Yes he did. Why didn’t he refuse to? Why didn’t he run away? Because that’s war, soldiers kill humans and do other inhuman things. And the sport of bicycle racing at pro level was (has been) heavily affected by drug use for recent decades. That’s how it was and if you wanted to know this you could have known it for ever not just since 2012.
      You may praise the individuals who did not dig in and rode clean all the time. But don’t you blame those who gave in to pressure of which ever side in order to save their jobs when all they knew was that (nearly) everybody else was doing the same thing.

      • Fair suck of the sauce bottle STS… it’s a very very long stretch to compare soldiers in war with skinny blokes in lycra. Larry T is hardly calling for all riders who doped to be dragged from their homes and shot, to use your analogy.

        Clearly EPO was a requirement back in the day, but why do we have to accept it now? There are a hell of a lot of ex dopers running teams and directing riders today, they should be educated and monitored to ensure they don’t continue the scourge.

        It’s still a massive elephant in the room at Orica GreenEdge, who have failed miserably in this area. O’Grady lied to them when he joined, then White did too but got busted and so admitted to it, then got a 6 month paid holiday, meanwhile Stephens continues on dancing in team videos with his silly horse jaw from too much HGH. There is one other person there (who raced alongside Lance and was very successful throughout the EPO era) who no one is prepared to talk about either, cheeky chappies don’t dope do they?

        Time for a (well planned and structured) truth and reconciliation tribunal though, as Inner Ring has said previously. Sure, there would be a team owner, DS, manager, etc. on every team who would have to fess up, but they don’t have to lose their jobs. Just admit they were cheats, apologise, and sign up to some charter about being responsible about it in the future. If anyone dopes on their team and they know about it, bang gone.

        • The mechanic of the pressure seems similar. I’m sure this is what STS means. When your life is at stake, right and wrong is mostly irrelevant. You do what you have to do to survive. And you still can be a good Person? I imagine the threat of loosing your standing, your income, respect and admiration, the fear of falling literally back to nothing and nothingness in clear front of everybody is also a good makeup for strong pressure. Nobody wakes up one day and thinks:, oh today I will use ped,right? It is a process, the perspective changes, bulges under the pressure and they tell themselves: it is not you who is doing wrong, in reality THEY are the cheats and you are only doing what is needed to survive. You are FORCED to level the playing field, you can’t let down your team, you want to be a good mate. Twisted. Actually in a sport of sacrifices, doing everything required, is a logical consequence. That must be part of the reason why some of them really don’t feel they have done anything wrong and still ride with their head high and cash their cheques. I am not making excuses, just try to understand. They are still People, people. I am sure we all made wrong choices in our lifes, only our mistakes happen in obscurity and we don’t have to answer for them in the restaurant, supermarket etc. BTW: Mr. Armstrong I am excluding from my understanding. The tour of Bejing moving to the early season would be a good thing!

  2. Een LL Sanchez: what I read in a Dutch newspaper was that Rabobank had gotten hold of a Puerto police report before publication, which named him as a client. They confronted him and basically told him he was fired, but a few days later the official version came out and Sanchez name had disappeared. The team employee interviewed – don’t remember who – blamed it on Sanchez’ dad working for the Guardia Civil. I think I remember reading the team also had spoken to a witness that withdrew.
    It was enough evidence for the team to be convinced.

  3. Presumably Belkin would also be within their rights to keep Sanchez on the payroll but just never select him for any races for the remainder of his contract? That would similarly affect his reputation (by shining a light on his past) but this way at least he gets to race again if another team picks him up.

    Perhaps he could join Human Growth Horner, Scarponi and the remnants of Euskatel to create a ragtag band of misfits who after being framed for a crime they didn’t commit, help the innocent while on the run from the military.

  4. Agree with the idea of shifting Tour of Beijing. In its current slots it’s just a few days after a big national holiday in China which makes it almost impossible for fans from across the country to get days off work to come and visit the race. Feb is too cold though and the mountain roads still have snow on them.
    In regards to famous roads – you’ll find that Stage 3 goes over the Si Hai climb which is a strava “Classic Segment”. The only one in China so far. This is climb that 1000’s of cycling fans tackle each year as it is within striking distance of the city. I think we’ll see some interesting action on that climb in a few days.

    • Tour of Beijing is a complete joke.

      It might as well be on Mars, for the level of local interest and sheer manufactered nature of it. No wonder McQuaid and his family are all involved in the race. Bleed sponsors and the UCI for your personal fortune, no one knows or cares, lovely.

      I nearly gagged when I read Sky trying to pump up making Richie Porte GC candidate for the race. Thanks for all your hard work with Froome at the Tour, here have a fortune cookie.

      Why stage it? The cycling in the Beijing Olympics was mortifying, no one watched and the pollution on the roads would have taken years off the cyclists’ lives.

      Oh yeh, I know why they stage it. For the McQuaid family holidays.

      • Porte had his ‘fortune cookie’ earlier in the season with leadership at Paris-Nice and Pais Vasco – plus at the Tour Sky trying to keep him protected as well as Froome till it went pear-shaped for him on st 9. Now he’s just tired and wants to get to the end of the season – like the vast majority of the WT riders in Beijing – but he understands who and how he earns his money.

  5. Gossy….Why OGE keep picking him is beyond me, he hasnt offered them much this year and Michael Matthews is clearly the better sprinter at the moment in my opinion.

    • When did they keep picking him ahead of Bling?

      He hasn’t raced much this year, which may be partly why it was such a shocker for him.

      I’m feeling sorry for him now, his year started badly and it just got worse. I saw him up close all fat and lazy in the Sun Tour in January. No wonder he was dead last in the Nationals in January. He didn’t seem to buckle down and was out here on a holiday. Claims of illness early on and throughout the Classics (admittedly it was pretty terrible weather with KBK being cancelled, MSR being snowed out, etc.) and he managed to jag a few stage wins and podiums through luck rather than hard work I’d say.

      His results were – 1st Tirreno-Adriatico, Stage 2; 2nd Tour Down Under, opening stage; 2nd Tour Down Under, Stage 3; 2nd Tour of Oman, Stage 6; 2nd Tour de Suisse, Stage 4; 3rd Giro d’Italia, Stage 6. Lots of gaps there. Hardly any racing it seems, and those he did race he was grupetto most of the time. I wouldn’t say he was getting opportunity ahead of Bling.

      He’s a Milan San Remo winner, and a talent, but needs to get his act together. Tough love maybe?

  6. OGE should have taken Bling to the TdF, Gossy was well off the pace in the sprints there. Maybe he didn’t do the work during the Australian summer.

    Tbh he hasn’t done much since winning MSR.

    • Big pay cut for Gossy for his new contract, I’m sure. And maybe some lead-out duties for Bling. 2 years is a long enough trial period as lead sprinter, MSR winner or not.

  7. Re: Lulu situation

    Until TRC happens, pro cycling is like a 50’s zombie movie where there’s a skeleton in every closet and no one knows where to turn. TRC looming is the real reason why sponsors are reluctant at the moment to step in. TRC is a good thing, but it’s gotta happen sooner rather than later. It needs to get uglier before it gets better.

    • Hey Andy did OK in 2010 behind Cancellara’s wheel! One more year for Andy to prove himself before we stop talking about him amongst the elite. Give Gossy a go for Orica in the flat-ish classics and make him a lead-out for Bling in the stage races.

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