Monday Shorts

Cassani: Italy’s gain, TV’s loss – Cyclocross as a winter sport – Fixing the CX contract season – Two weeks to the TDU – Is Cognizant the new sponsor for Argos-Shimano?

Davide Cassani has been named as the new Italian national coach. The appointment is always treated as a big deal in Italy and concludes a saga of public commentary via La Gazzetta Dello Sport on the contenders before incumbent Paolo Bettini had even resigned and concluded with the blessing of dapper legend Alfredo Martini, the coach for over 20 years. You almost expected white smoke to waft from the chimney on Martini’s house. Habemus selector.

Certainly no other country gets as excited about the coach: can you name the coach in France, Australia or Belgium? It’s still a big job in the sport and reasonably high profile in Italy. Selfishly I’ll miss Cassani’s insight as a TV commentator for RAI, he’d ride the key stages of the Giro and be a good one for watching the lead group to spot who was tired or not.

Cyclo-cross as a winter sport?
The UCI will meet with the International Olympic Committee soon to lobby for CX as a winter sport. As discussed here last year: Why isn’t Cyclo-Cross at the Winter Olympics?.

Nys Mid-Season Swap
Trek BooneTalking of cross, Sven Nys unveiled his new Trek Boone last week. It meant swapping bikes right in the middle of the season, an unusual and potentially fraught experience as even if you work hard to ensure an identical set-up it’s always going to be different. Ideally you want to swap during the off-season. Now The road circuit has contracts that run from 1 January-31 December and so it’s no problem, for example Rigoberto Uran’s been posting images of his “winter” training in Colombia where’s he’s dressed in Sky kit but you can spot the Specialized bike at times. But the January-December term for contracts applies to cyclo-cross too meaning a mid-season switch. Shouldn’t the contractual term for cyclo-cross run the full length of the sport’s season?

Presumably the counter argument or at least the history says cross emerged as sport for road riders to use over winter so professionals had contracts with a road team anyway. But as the sport develops more and more and more and more riders sign cross-specific contracts, perhaps the UCI should rethink the terms?

Two weeks
Just two weeks to go until the Tour Down Under starts and Lotto Belisol, Omega Pharma-QuickStep and Ag2R La Mondiale are arriving in Adelaide as soon as this Thursday. It’s been knocked before as a glorified training camp but this label seems less and less applicable. I’ll do a proper preview in due course but for now note the race is hillier than past editions with fewer opportunities for the pure sprinters.

Argos Shimano > ????
Finally a note of speculation. The team formerly known as Argos-Shimano is due to unveil its new name, kit and website on 13 January. For now the website is a holding page but mentions a Twitter hashtag #KeepChallenging.

Nobody owns those two words but eagle-eyed Dutch readers on the Wielerflits website have spotted the same hashtag has been used by Cognizant, a large American IT consultancy and outsourcing firm.

Is this just coincidence or is this the identity of the new team sponsor? It’s not obvious, if the team and sponsor want to keep things under wraps then using a shared Twitter meme in public seems to give the game away. At the same time if they weren’t linking up why would the team employ a mantra closely-linked with another firm? All will be revealed this time next week.

24 thoughts on “Monday Shorts”

  1. With the Corkscrew and Old Willunga Hill, I’ve become more taken with TDU now that its no longer a Greipel sprintfest.

    And this off-season has felt twice as long as usual…

  2. Isnt Cassani the same idiot who said Cancellara had a motor in his frame a year or two back? Why would anyone listen to him after that “expose”? I love it but Italy is a weird place.

    • Not quite, I remember he showed an electric motor on a bike and showed the effect it could have plus stated it might have been used in a race. It was someone else who spliced this with video from Cancellara to create a Youtube clip to link it to Cancellara.

    • Isn’t he also the guy who unwittingly inserted into his commentary something like “I bumped into Michael Rasmussen out training near my home in Italy last week…”?
      With gems like that, we’re all set to miss out!

        • Great line about the smoke coming from Martini’s house – he IS sort of like the pope of cycling in Italy. Cassani’s intelligent commentary will be missed by yours truly, though Silvio Martinello might step up to fill in the gaps. He’s very good as well.
          Trek and Nys? I expect this to prove (once again) that it’s the RIDER, not the bike. Trek’s taken a page out of Honda’s old moto playbook – throw gobs of money at whoever is the top dog, then advertise like he got to be #1 using your equipment, regardless of how phony and shallow it appears to those who follow the sport closely.
          Cognizant? Come on in boys…your money is welcome! Pro cycling could use a boost like this after so many scandals.

  3. RE: Nys to Trek

    Interesting residual effect of the Armstrong years (i.e. $$$) to enable TREK to position itself in ‘cross … knocking off Colnago at that. If the stars align, they could have 2 world champions on their rigs.

    On a side note, if TREK gets into the game, perhaps Cervelo will rebirth its ‘cross program.

  4. still has the massive, and probably insuperable, difficulty mentioned last time round: it’s not a sport, but a discipline of the sport of cycling. The fact that it has the same transfer years as road cycling tends to demonstrate that.

    • I cannot see it happening. If the IOC allows cross then here comes cross country running, indoor track, darts, etc. Anything that is traditionally done in winter …

      The requirement that the sport be done on ice or snow (not that it can be but rather that it in integral) is a bit of a problem.

      Personally I would love to see cross in the Olympics but would have to either be the summer games (lose Modern Pentathlon) or the winter Olympics will become inundated …

  5. Wouldn’t it be easier to include cross in the summer games, it wouldn’t take much to make a course as some include a lot of sand anyway. Of course its not ideal but better than not being included and it wouldn’t effect the cross season.

    • They’ll never get it in. Firstly, cross is a winter sport – so there’s no argument for it to be positioned for inclusion in summer games. And secondly, the IOC actually want to reduce the number of sports and events as they think the programme’s too crowded – not increase them. Look at the business over the 2020 programme. They threw Greco Roman wrestling out of 2016 programme, and then let that sport lobby alongside other sports for re-inclusion back in for 2020 – and they only allowed 3 ‘new’ sports in for 2020.

      • While CX is supposed to be a “winter” sport, there are more races in the September – November time frame than the December – March time frame. This makes it an Autumn sport But you are correct, the IOC is culling sports; track cycling has taken a strong hit. The UCI would probably have to sacrifice other disciplines in order to get it squeezed in.

  6. Is it certain that Cassani will stop commentating? I would certainly miss him. Best commentator out there. On the plus side, Italy finally has an excellent commissario tecnico again. Was about time.

  7. I’m getting curious INRNG, how did you spot that comment on Wielerflits? Did it get forwarded to you? Or are we one step closer to finding your nationality?


  8. As much as I would like to see CX in either the summer or winter games, I’m not sure it’s going to happen for a few reasons. I think the audience, on a global scale, would be limited (read: potential profit). How many countries are really into CX? A handful in Europe and N. America (is CX big is Australia? I don’t know.) One could argue that most winter olympic sports have a limited audience, but as a commenter above noted, it is a discipline of cycling so it could be put in the summer games. Then the problem of the IOC wanting to cut sports not add.

    It just seems to me to be too many hurdles to get over (pun intended:) Which is a shame because it’s a very viewer friendly discipline of the sport that translates to TV well and could really draw people to the sport.

    • It’s sad to read but good that Giant has stepped in.

      Argos seemed ready to pull out early and the new big sponsor never appeared. The team is well-managed and has a range of exciting young riders like Kittel, Degenkolb and Barguil who deserve support.

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