The Esquire story has small details like how he crashed wheeling his bike to a car wash in Monaco or how he has to hide his bike box show the life of a pro. Antoine Vayer gets an unflattering portrait. This morning’s reactions to the piece tend to say more about the person offering the comments than Froome or the data with some even venturing pre-emptive thoughts yesterday in a bid to insert themselves into the event.
I did think of drawing up a handy flowchart to explain things where the first dichotomous question would be “Is Chris Froome doping?” and people go from there as a way to make light of the way many start from a predetermined position. Sarcasm aside it’s very useful to have the extra data but it’s still selective rather than comprehensive, some snapshots rather than the storyline and the Esquire subheading of “the tests he hopes will silence the doubters forever” is rather optimistic.
The reference for rider data releases must be Thibaut Pinot who puts a lot of his rides on Strava and has released a ton of rider data, handily summarised in English by Cycle Sport magazine available as a PDF. It’s too much to hope others follow Pinot but who will follow Froome here?
Etixx-Quickstep-Lidl? Last week’s “shorts” pondered aloud how teams are allowed to have three names. As reader Rik VII pointed out in the comments it turns out that a fresh set of UCI rules have been released and from now on all teams can, if they wish, have three sponsors in their name. However a glance at the World Tour shows most teams have just one name despite the value of naming rights. Of the 18 names for 2016 only Etixx-Quickstep, Giant-Alpecin, Lampre-Merida, Lotto-Soudal and Lotto-Jumbo have two names. Cannondale Pro Cycling likely to ride under the Cannondale-Garmin moniker and Orica-Greenedge are still searching for that partner.
Tinkoff go downhill: One team with a single name is Tinkoff. The squad’s future seems uncertain but they’re going into 2016 with a promising high publicity blitz in the swanky Franco-Russian ski resort of Courchevel. The team’s new jersey will be unveiled during the presentation of the FIS Women’s Ski World Cup event and Peter Sagan will ride a snow bike down the giant slalom course. Oleg Tinkov is no stranger to the place and it makes for a fun team launch in front of a wider audience rather than the traditional venues such as an out of season resort in Spain.
Tinkoff aren’t alone in visiting a ski resort. The French national team has just spent several days frolicking near the Col de l’Iseran only without a bicycle in sight. Instead it’s a “cohesion” event in order to build an esprit d’équipe ahead of the Olympics and World Championships, an answer to the problem of trying to build a team of riders who are normally rivals so Thibaut Pinot and Romain Bardet have been skiing together albeit briefly with Pinot rushing off to an FDJ sponsorship event and Bardet arriving late, having sat an oral exam for his masters degree. Publicity photos of the camp here.
Espresso: Today’s La Gazzetta Dello Sport says Trek Factory Racing could become Trek-Segafredo with co-sponsorship from the Italian coffee giant and possibly the team could even be named Segafredo with bike sponsorship from Trek in the future. A story to follow if only for confirmation (a year later we’re still waiting for the follow-up to La Gazzetta’s scoop that Michele Ferrari attended the Astana team camp). Segafredo’s name had been doing the rounds with faint whispers of backing Bjarne Riis in a new venture.
Dublin dodgers? Talking of team names changing the UCI announced a licence for a Pro Conti team called “Tharcor” yesterday. Try googling it and you’ll find a French campsite, Le Thar Cor and an Irish shell company and little else. Of course it’s not a new team backed by a camp site, it’s the Italian team Southeast and they’re probably using the Dublin tax dodge to save on Italian employer taxes to keep the show on the road. Back in the days when they were “Fluo Yellow” they were registered with a London address too while rivals Bardiani-CSF used Dublin. It happens elsewhere too, for example the last remaining Italian team in the World Tour, Lampre-Merida, has its official address… in Switzerland. Under the UCI rules, a team’s nationality is elective.
Sky for Sale? Could Sky lose their British owners? The Financial Times says British company Sky could be for sale. It’s only 40% owned by the Murdoch empire and James Murdoch has questioned the purpose of this minority shareholding, either he wants to take over the whole of the British venture or it could be offloaded to another media company who may well have other sponsorship and marketing objectives than a pro cycling team. All speculation and as we’ve seen with sports mad Belgian entrepreneur Marc Coucke selling his Omega Pharma business to US firm Perrigo there was a clause to keep the cycling sponsorship going for a couple more years. Loose change in any takeover.
Late points change? Back to those new UCI rules and they contain proposed changes for 2016 with red ink showing the changes for the coming year. There’s very little substantial change, largely it’s rebranding teams in the World Tour to “UCI WorldTeams” and the Women’s World Cup becomes the Women’s World Tour. One big omission is the changes to the UCI rankings. While a lot of the proposed UCI reforms, such as team licences, are due for 2017 the UCI has said a new points system is coming and that “details of the reformed system will be finalised in advance of the 2016 season” but confusingly the 2016 rulebook states the rankings system is for 2015. The UCI tried to change the rankings for 2015 by slipping out an update inside a PDF on their website a fortnight before the Tour Down Under but this angered teams with with LottoNL-Jumbo team boss Richard Plugge saying “you can’t change the rules suddenly in January”. Can we expect a sudden rule change in December then?
Eight year bans: the UCI updated its list of banned dopers last night including some riders with eight year bans, those who have been caught before and now for a second time face eight years out. Four years is career ending for most.