Tuesday Shorts

A quick look at some stories and topics in and around the sport…

Tom Dumoulin is taking a break from the sport. Like Marc Hirschi’s switch to UAE it came almost the day after he was presented in team kit so it seems sudden. Only the idea behind both decisions was kicking around for some time before the decision was taken and then announced. What does Dumoulin’s retreat mean for the sport? Beyond Jumbo-Visma’s roster planning – and they’re a team deep with talent – not much as it’s one personal issue rather than a trend and maybe we should not extrapolate too far in looking into this?

Jumbo-Visma won’t be there but currently it’s full steam ahead for the season-opening GP La Marseillaise this Sunday. The French government is watching the Covid case data closely and could impose further restrictions on activities and movements but press reports say President Macron isn’t going to make a policy intervention this week so the GP La Marseillaise should happen… or at least it seems the President won’t get in the way. A reminder it’s on TV this year, a first and in part because people are encouraged to watch from home rather than the roadside.

Other races in February could face bigger hurdles so it’s possible the pro season starts this Sunday only to grind to a halt. We’ll also see differences as races of national importance get backing, for example the UAE Tour goes ahead while smaller, local 1.1 races vanish and lower down there are blanket bans, for example all amateur races are off until March in Belgium. Above all a matrix of conditions apply, obviously national decisions apply so there are differences country-by-country within Europe but also regional and below as it only takes one local to say no and another race bites the dust.

Several Spanish races are trying to move from February to May. This looks like buying time which is a valid reason alone. But absent the Tour of California this could work as a way to allow both Spanish squads and riders returning after a spring classics break to race, it could work for all.

Delete, delete, delete. Normally offering a calendar of races to download is something useful and worth sharing but like last year it’s becoming a job to manage it with more and more races being cancelled or postponed. This isn’t a sympathy play, no let’s save that for the race organisers, riders and locals who had been counting on the event. Instead if you are a subscriber to this blog’s calendar and notice a race has been cancelled but it’s still listed then an email or comment would be helpful here for fellow users.

One other thing that’s been missing is of late L’Equipe, France’s daily sports newspaper. Staff were on  strike for 12 days after management announced job and budget cuts. The challenges of running a newspaper these days are well-known with shrinking circulation and fierce competition online. It’s a great source for cycling coverage, especially during the Tour de France. The good news is a compromised has been reached and the paper is back, hopefully with continued excellent coverage. Only today the paper has a deeper account of Marc Hirschi’s move.

One article looking at the L’Equipe strike mentioned something relevant and of interest: the Tour de France made a loss last year, a first it seems in a very long time. The titbit comes from French newspaper Le Parisien. If the Tour lost money, presumably most others did too although ASO pushed the boat out booking more hotels and hiring a substantial medical crew.

Talking of medical crews, the new Eolo-Kometa team is one to watch. Founded by Ivan Basso and Alberto Contador, it’s fair to say the pair have some baggage. Now in comes Carlos Barredo as team coach, the same Barredo who retired just when the UCI opened a case against him regarding abnormalities in his bio-passport. One to watch.

Another ProTeam now and Delko, formerly known as Nippo Delko One Provence last year (the UCI has scrapped the old rule limiting naming rights to two sponsors). The team is owned and run by Philippe Lannes who is the boss of Delko, a network of car repair workshops and spare parts retail. He’s lost both Nippo and the Provence region in the last year after internal wrangling. What’s interesting is that both Nippo and Provence have moved to EF Pro Cycling this year. Nippo was well known and a straightforward sponsor switch with the Japanese tarmacker moving to a team, it had hopped across from Italian teams before. Provence is different as it’s not just a region, it is the region where Delko was based and had been a long term backer. The US team is now going to promote the Provence region in return. Presumably the service course and riders stay in Girona for now – Provence is a side sponsor – but it’ll be interesting to see how they showcase the region, presumably someone is studying gravel tracks for Lachlan Morton at this minute. It should be an easy sell, the city of Marseille is France’s version of Napoli/Naples which is both good and bad but it’s a quick ride out to some great roads and tracks.

30 thoughts on “Tuesday Shorts”

  1. The appointment of Barredo is the product of allowing chancers and unreformed dopers like Basso and Contador to become Pro team owners. Money talks, but the UCI needs to deal with this situation
    firmly once and for all.
    Amateur races being cancelled is no surprise to those of us trying to place riders abroad. A great shame for young prospects. Lets hope the end of Spring brings about a change and these riders get their chance.

    • I’m not sure if Barredo got a ban in the end, I don’t think he did but at the time it wasn’t obvious as other riders like Denis Menchov were banned on the quiet and the decision only came out later. The UCI rules now prohibit ex-riders with doping bans from serving from team staff but… Denis Menchov is a manager at Gazprom-Rusvelo today. I think the rule had a date when it applied from so this could explain Menchov.

      On a wider point if someone does get one and serves the ban, or does not as in they were never convicted, it’s hard to keep them out of a job either way, the sport comes up against employment law which the courts listen to more than sports rules.

          • My point is that your argument of employment law is often brought up but I am not aware of a single case in cycling where this was fought over in court, let alone successfully by a banned rider.

          • It’s more the institutions creating rules in order not to overlap with civil law, because they risk losing which in turn would unpick the sporting rules. But this doesn’t mean we can’t start a list, there have been cases where riders and others have used the courts to overturn bans, Spain has seen several cases where the bio passport and out of competition testing has been challenged, eg Ibai Salas and his passport. Tom Boonen used the appeals to start the Tour de France. Rémi di Gregorio won a court case in France (only to later get rousted for EPO), there are plenty more.

          • In a case involving swimmers David Meca-Medina and Ivan Majcen, the European Court of Justice ruled that sporting rules, including anti-doping rules, are subject to its jurisdiction where they have economic effects, such as where they affect an athlete’s ability to earn a living.

            The ruling wasn’t swimming-specific, and so the UCI and CAS have paid attention.

  2. Dumoulin: everyone who has ridden a bike at any level must have had the feeling with hours of training, pain, cold, rain and, with the current obsession, the inability to eat with pleasure. It’s hardly a surprise that the pressure and constaints add up and weigh heavy, and the feeling ‘Is it worth it, what am I doing here?’ surfaces.

    As for Eolo-Kometa, I get the impression that cycling is slipping slowly back towards the bad days, while the current infrequent controls and fairly ineffective Bio Passport don’t seem to do more than discourage the worst. PRT rides are hard to come by, but an Eolo place is surely near the bottom of the barrel. A pity as some riders there will undoubtedly have high standards and promise. It’s unfortunate that the UCI don’t do more to encourage MPCC membership too.

    • Maybe if anything it’s a surprise more riders don’t stop more often. Lennard Kämna had a break with Sunweb and came back better for it, Daan Olivier also left Sunweb to go to university but it proved a short career break as he joined Jumbo-Visma.

      The UCI’s instead imported a lot of the MPCC’s ideas like tramadol testing etc, the one big thing left is cortisone/cortisol testing.

  3. Since this morning I have seen Murcia, and in France Denain, Les 4 Cantons and Les Plages Vendéennes postponed. Maybe we should get the WT teams and thier stars riding cyclo-cross which are easier to manage and which avoid open roads. Froome has running experience!

  4. Just a couple of points:

    Re eolo kometa, basso and contador were found guilty of doping infractions. Both served bans from cycling. Since their bans, there has been no further proven doping offences. This should be the end of.

    What is a unreformed doper? What is a reformed doper? If its an abject apology you’re looking for, well they are just words.

    We don’t know what Messrs. Basso and contador are telling their team. It could be you need to take drugs if you want to win or it could be don’t take any of that shit you’ll get caught, lose two years of your career and your reputation.

    In what respect are basso and contador chancers? After all there are plenty of dodgy team owners about from representatives of regimes with iffy human rights records to tax dodgers (yes I’m looking at you “sir” Jim Ratcliffe recently reported as having avoided paying the UK exchequer £4billion tax.)

    Basso and contador did the crime and did the time.

    9 1/2 weeks to the ronde and Belgium is tightening its covid restrictions. Do we really think the cobbled classics are going to happen?

    • Should the hiring committee of a bank hire a convicted bank robber who served his time as a bank manager? He did the crime and served the time. If it was up to me, I would not hire that person. If I was a major shareholder in said bank I wouldn’t be happy if the convict was hired. He needs to find a different line of work.

      I support lifetime bans for convicted dopers for any direct team positions, whether team owner, DS, manager, masseuse, mechanic, team doctor, bus driver, whatever. Vino, Riis, etc etc need to be gone from cycling.

      • All regulated financial service businesses, such as banks, have a ‘fit and proper’ test for all their main staff, which means any issues of ‘moral turpitude’ would disqualify you from the job. Doesn’t seem like a bad example for cycling to follow, if it’s going to break clear from the LA years.

      • Dude, get a reality check. Financial institutes hire convicted former money launderers and tax fraud criminals all the time. It’s part of their criminal business of washing drug money. So your point being, other than secretly be sorry that there are no lifetime sentences adn death penalties for dopers?

    • “In what respect are basso and contador chancers?” That’s good. Very good. Ask Cipo. Alberto “lots to learn” Contador keeps Basso very, very close indeed. Much closer than Lance kept Floyd, wouldn’t you say?

  5. I would have a similar thought on the returned dopers. Although you would prefer not to have the ex dopers i do believe in people being allowed back after the penalty has finished.

    They do still serve a penalty though as most people having served a ban have a lower earn or sponsor potential.
    Notably however that when it comes to being tough on doping most countries adopt a “were tough on doping” mantra but prefer that it is only applied to other countries athletes. Many banned athletes are still popular in there own country. Eddy Merckx, Alberto Contador, Pantani etc.

    Regardless of the reason or how well he comes back Dumoulen will have reduced his future earnings becasue any team taking him on will need to consider weather he is a reliable enough to be the team focus. So its a big call.

    • If the UCI wants to apply life bans, they should hand them down at the sanctioning stage and defend them at the CAS appeal stage – not try to sneak them in by stealth without any independent assessment or right of reply.

      • If they leave out of contract does the former team get a transfer fee. Sunweb seem very happy to let people go before the contract is ended. I assume its a way of generating cash from richer teams.

        • Not automatically but normally there would be some kind of settlement. UAE can get him exclusively and a content rider is worth more to them than a sulking one to DSM. Plus Hirschi’s stand to gain a six/seven figure sum by moving, he could spend a portion of this to move as well, this has happened before. The rules say both teams have to agree and the UCI has to validate it, so all sides have to be happy to proceed.

  6. I wonder if a profit from the tour was ever actually expected… I wanted to believe that holding the tour had the future of the sport and its employees in general in mind, like a short-term financial sacrifice for a greater good.

      • More to the point from ASO’s point of view, the path back to profitability will be far shorter as a result of running the Tour in 2020 than if it was cancelled.

        Most of the races that have been cancelled won’t return because they won’t be able to provide any confidence to prospective partners.

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