Andy Shleck is alive and well. A lot of the coverage of his retirement has resembled an obituary, with sorrow at his sudden departure, talk of a promising career that stopped too early and people sharing fond memories. Apart from a knee that can’t take the demands of pro cycling – the doctors said if he kept riding he’d need a knee transplant before he’s 40 – he’s in rude health, has a young family and he’s a millionaire too. He’ll be ok.
There is an obvious element of disappointment and the unfulfilled promise. The knee injury was sustained in the Tour de France this summer but we never got much of an explanation as to what went wrong before. He broke his sacrum in the 2012 Dauphiné and this is often cited as the beginning of the end but prior to this was dropped on a small climb in the same race and had struggled all spring.
As L’Equipe points out today Andy Shcleck is the Tour de France winner who has retired at the youngest age.
The Transfer Market’s closing down sale
With the collapse of Fernando Alonso’s team the game of musical chairs has taken a sudden twist with a lot of seats being pulled in one go. Only with one less team in the World Tour it means there are fewer jobs and fewer well paid ones. While some teams opted to recruit early, Lampre-Merida’s still to sign up several riders and could save a lot of money by having the pick of the jobs market as one of the few employers left in town.
The winner of the transfer market this year has to be Nacer Bouhanni who timed his move to Cofidis perfectly. It was done during a Giro winning streak but crucially when the transfer market was at its hottest. Bouhanni could play off one team against another while they still struggled to recruit riders knowing Alonso’s project was threatening to sign up talent. The mastermind agent behind this deal? Karim Bouhanni, his father, a construction worker.
FDJ’s busy recruitment
The French lottery team is losing Bouhanni and the subject of their challenges for 2015 is worth a whole blog post another day. They’re quietly recruiting for a better future. They’ve signed Kévin Reza, a good helper for Arnaud Démare who can win races too. But the squad has been hiring new coaches in David Han and ex-pro Sébastien Joly. They’ll have three coaches, each is tasked with 10 riders plus other duties. Han for example is in charge of a new project reports L’Est Eclair that involves a dedicated video server where race footage will uploaded for analysis.
From hiring to firing: remember Sylvain Georges? If you do it’s probably for two reasons, either his Tour of California stage win in 2012 or his 2013 Giro d’Italia positive test. The doping offence was one of those cases of testing positive for stupidity, he was taking a product naively bought over the counter in a pharmacy rather than anything sinister. But that was his fault and he paid the price with his job. Now his ban is ending and he’s signed for an amateur team in France.
George’s story isn’t big news but it brings us to a bigger and more current topic. His suspension meant Ag2r had to self-suspend under the MPCC rules back in 2013, a live topic at the moment. Back then the UCI agreed to this but now it seems the UCI won’t accept Astana’s suspension and is minded to fine the Kazakh team a large sum of money. The team can afford it, the real story is how the UCI is trying to assert the primacy of its rules over the MPCC. With Roger Legeay’s passive response to Astana’s case the MPCC’s own future is at stake now.
Any colour you like as long as it’s not black
1.3.030 Rain capes’ design must be transparent or be similar to the jersey by use of one of the principle team colours. The team’s name must be displayed on it.
Onto other UCI rules and there’s a new one for 2015 that stipulates rain wear has to look like a team jersey. It’s a much-needed rule because when it rains half the peloton turns black, often with no way of telling one team from another. Viewers can’t see, commissiares are confused and even riders struggle to tell friend from foe. There’s also the sound commercial logic which says a sponsor’s logo ought to be visible at all times. Some teams have got this already but others haven’t. Will they all get it for 2015? There’s just one problem, the old rule on clear jackets was ignored so what chance this one gets treated selectively?
— Björn Thurau (@BThurau) October 10, 2014
To cloudy conditions of another sort. If there’s a new rule for rainy days there’s nothing new on the air quality issues for the peloton in the Tour of Beijing. There are general safety rules. The early stages are held in rural areas but video of the opening stage showed smog. It’s subjective viewing from the camera but after the race several riders took to twitter to report the health risk. At pixel time the realtime air quality reading in Beijing is “hazardous” and the final stage in the City could be under threat.
This Sunday’s Paris-Tours classic is proof that status and excitement aren’t always correlated. There will be a preview here soon and it’s often a better race that its lowly status suggests, all thanks to the three sharp hills in the final which create a delicate balance between the bunch and attackers. Look out for the race on Sunday.
A big thanks to everyone who’s bought a cap. Again they’re selling fast; some have sold out. If this second order is much bigger than the last one, some had signed up on the Prendas website to get theirs and so it meant once the stock arrived it went out again within hours. Thanks to Prendas who’ve been busy printing, picking, packing and posting for the last two days.
To get your hands on one visit the prendas.co.uk shop.