Monday Shorts

Say what you like about Wout van Aert, he’s generous. Gifting the Gent-Wevelgem win to Christophe Laporte was the second time he’s given his French team mate a win after Paris-Nice and things were reversed at the GP E3 last year when they did a 1-2. These moments are fascinating for all the potential discussions and intrigue involved.

Normally in a two-up sprint we might compare the innate power and sprinting ability of each rider, adjust for their likely fatigue and so on. For two team mates together is it down to them to sprint – à la SD Works in Siena – or do they talk about it? Or does the team car get involved with commercial decisions from contractual matters to the marketing preferences of sponsors getting involved? It can be a lot harder to predict who will “win” when presented with this kind of finish. The rules say riders should sportingly defend their chances but making two riders sprint isn’t as simple as it sounds, one might have been working for the other, they’re team mates and friends rather than rivals and so on and just may not want to contest it, and often based on a rapport we don’t know much about. They could fake a sprint but that risks looking silly and besides, the rulebook doesn’t get opened for these kinds of finishes.

To problems of another kind and Soudal-Quickstep keep get a roasting for their lacklustre performance in the classics in a way that other teams don’t. Patrick Lefevere says his team’s the same as it was back in the day when it was getting results but that could be the problem: it’s often brought on riders and once they’ve made a name for themselves, they go elsewhere to cash in. Only now the roster looks too familiar, almost stale. It’s still packed with talent but just less dynamic and they lack a central rider to base their tactics on, Tim Merlier and Fabio Jakobsen are fast sprinters but both struggle to get over the climbs, even the bergs, and risk having their legs blunted for the finish.

Lefevere might have turned his TV off after watching Catalunya but others will be tuning in soon. Obviously a lot of Belgian media is focussed on Evenepoel, and the latest part of this is that the Giro d’Italia is now going to be shown on RTL, a mainstream TV channel in Belgium. The race is on Sporza but that’s for half the country in Dutch, it’s on Eurosport and so for subscribers who go looking for it. But given the big interest an extra rights deal has been rustled up with just over a month to go to show it in Wallonia too.

Embed from Getty Images

Belgian viewers on both sides of the and more have plenty to look forward to. The duel in Catalunya between Evenepoel and Primož Roglič was entertaining to watch as Evenepoel tried to attack and take time. He just wasn’t very subtle, launching uphills moves with the hope of breaking Roglič, the Slovenian who only started cycling in his 20s is now the deft pro who measures his efforts against the inexperienced rider. It sets things up nicely for the Giro but there we’re more likely to see Evenepoel ahead of Roglič after the time trials, so the Slovenian sniping time bonuses here and there. The risk is these two are so far ahead of the rest and then one of them has a problem and there’s no sport, others like João Almeida or Aleksandr Vlasov will be wondering how and where they’ll get opportunities.

Embed from Getty Images

Staying in Italy, if riders in pro cycling get nicknames based in the longstanding “activity + home” formula, which has given us monikers from the Eagle of Toledo to the Manx Missile, the “Cat Sniper of San Marino”, aka Antonio Tiberi is still in the news. La Gazzetta Dello Sport reports Trek-Segafredo is minded to drop him and Astana is among the teams in the running to recruit him. Only the rules say no. There’s a transfer window from 1-15 August so moving before is unlikely. Teams have tried in the past, take Alessandro Petacchi who “retired” and suddenly Quick-Step tried to sign him. But a loophole was closed largely because of this transfer saga so Astana or another team couldn’t get Tiberi in time for the Giro as any rider who belongs to a World Tour team can’t retire and suddenly become free. But Tiberi is a promising long term rider so could be worth waiting for, especially if he’s able to put the past behind him.

Talking of young riders and transfers, the UCI’s introducing a development fee payable when men’s World Tour teams sign a rider, it’ll involve a €2,000 payment for every year the rider in question rode with a UCI Conti development team or a club registered with a UCI federation. €2,000 is both a small sum and a significant one. Small as in an U23 team or junior squad collecting this is hardly cashing in a golden ticket; but at the same time a squad recruiting a neo-pro could be liable for up to eight years of payments or €16,000 which counts on the wage bill. One pinchpoint is the payment goes to the national federation who then pay it on… that’s the idea but some federations could be slow, invent a handling fee or in quarrel with the team in question, especially if their development work is better than the federation. But the main thing is the establishment of this system, there’s a path here now that could expand.

Staying with promising talent, the Tour du Pays de Vaud race has been cancelled this year. Even readers of a niche cycling blog would be forgiven for not having heard of this one but it’s a short stage race for juniors ridden by national teams held in Switzerland at the start of summer and crucially it’s got a mountain stage or two. This makes it almost the Tour de l’Avenir for juniors, albeit over a long weekend rather than eight days. The list of winners – Adrien Costa in 2013 and 2014, then Marc Hirschi, Andreas Leknessund, Mathias Skjelmose, Marco Brenner and after a Covid-break, Jan Christen last year says plenty by itself, the other podium places have been full of now famous names too. I think it might have been Jonas Vingegaard’s first race outside of Denmark and where he could race uphill. It’s certainly been a draw for top talent… as well as recruiters and rider agents as well looking to make signings. Now it’s off, with the amateur – in the noble sense – organisers cite rising costs and regulations and the trouble of finding sponsorship for a junior race.

Finally on the subject of cancelled races, two related stories to keep an eye on. The police in the Netherlands are cutting back the support they give to races due to staff shortages, which means fewer races are likely to go ahead but the impact on the calendar, amateur or pro, remains to be seen. Similarly, a more short term issue, there are widespread protests in France. Paris-Roubaix is not far away and this event relies on police support for road closures, something that will be harder if staff are being deployed elsewhere, or require rest periods. The prefet, a central-government appointee for the local area was only too happy to postpone the race in the past. Hopefully the race goes ahead and we’re only left worrying if it’ll rain.

87 thoughts on “Monday Shorts”

  1. Re Van Aert’s generosity, gifting stages of minor stage races to Laporte or anyone else seems understandable but gifting him genuine classics does seem a bit much. He has (had) a chance to equal records such as Boonen’s 2012 cobble white wash, and these are the things he’ll ultimately be judged on when he packs it all in – in the greatest of all time/of his era bar arguments. It suggests he isn’t interested in stats or records which I suppose is a positive. Him MvdP and Pogacar are so far ahead of the rest its ridiculous. Van Aert was waiting up for Laporte at times. I wouldn’t be surprised if The Big 3 end up away on their own with 100km still to go on Sunday, especially as I think its in Pogacar’s interests to make it as hard as possible for as long as possible.

    • I think it’s a pretty interesting argument this one!!!

      Obviously from endless comments I’ve made here my obsession with redoing the calendar to reach wider audiences and make more of race wkends is known by some regular readers but how you, I, older fans, older racers perceive races like Gent-Wevelgem seems at the crux of the argument?

      Clearly WVA doesn’t think it’s that valuable as he wouldn’t have given away otherwise?

      Some races seems to have a group name – whether it be Monuments, Classics, the Big7 one week races, Grand Tours etc etc – and because of that some historic or traditional pull to older fans but if riders like WVA clearly don’t value them and some fans (including myself) also don’t, I kinda think there’s an argument that something about these races isn’t communicating to many people beyond their traditional worth?

      For me personally – I find the endless races around Flanders repetitive and dull when you know the Tour of Flanders is the only one that really matters… I think the on route support from the area/local fans is amazing and shouldn’t be overlooked but to some the lack of differentiation between the races leaves you wondering why you should care?

      Rather than criticise WVA for not valuing the tradition of G-W maybe the real question should be why he feels this is one he can give away because I don’t think he’s alone in thinking it’s not that important.

      Again for me personally – Omloop kinda has something because it’s the first, KBK I’ll only scroll through highlights if it’s not ended in a sprint, E3 generally has good racing so I enjoy even if it’s too similar to Flanders overall, G-W doesn’t feel special whatsoever and is extremely skippable… then there’s a few most forget before you finally get to the only one that matters?

      Very much expect to be passionately disagreed with and understandably so, but as a dedicated cycling fan when you see riders giving away races like WVA the only conclusion is there’s something up with the value system and work needs to be done to either modernise or find a way to make things matter more.

      Points systems have failed in the past as the calendar is too chaotic, relying on historic worth won’t work as time moves on, grouping them in a more clearly branded hold-all I can’t see working as it’ll be even more confusing – so differentiating each race more as a temporary fix before a bigger calendar rework would seem to be the only answer from what I can see.

      It likely won’t happen, but if riders don’t really care that much then why should viewers?

      Finally, and again personally, I’d much prefer fewer Flanders races and fewer races overall with race wkends that travelled to more varied places and more varied races so that you upped the value of each race as there were less and they were different and would hopefully have or grow more dedicated on course support as it was the areas only top tier race that season.

      Although having complained that MSR is a bad race the other week, at least riders care enough to actually win it which counts for a lot!!!

      Excited about Flanders and even more so about Roubaix.

      • Hi oldDAVE you probably have 3 separate points here. One, and the one least likely to change, is that there is probably too much cycling on TV! If you watch all of the cobbled races in Belgium then by the time Flanders comes round you probably will be a bit bored of them. They historically probably aren’t all meant to be a big deal and it’s probably a bit of over promotion, whether that be to world tour status or just televised status.
        Your second point is probably that all the cobbled races in Belgium at this time of year have become too similar. Which is valid and has been discussed recently on here. G-W is probably the least similar/most individual though so it’s perhaps odd that you’ve singled it out. Its longer than all the others bar Flanders and has less hills. It used to be better when it actually started in Gent and went west along the coast. It was pan flat but ran the risk of being battered by the wind straight off the sea. Now its pretty much all in West Flanders and mostly inland. Probably for host town reasons, maybe so it can be more attached to WWI battle fields (though I don’t really see how thats relevant to a bike race) and probably to find more hills and gravel (because cycling is only about hills or gravel now). I’d prefer it if it went back to its original format and was genuinely different to the others.
        Your third point that the calendar is crud is also valid. I’m not one for starting up races in the middle of nowhere for the sake of it. Especially if them nowhere places just end up being natural resource rich states with no interest in cycling. I’d prefer it if the major one day races. And we could probably all argue over which they are, were grouped together into a season championship like the World Cup used to be. My preference would be for it to contain the monuments and the other big one day races that happen on a Sunday. If its midweek its not a big deal in my book. If Van Aert was battling MvdP and Pogacar to win a championship that had standing maybe then he would not be so keen to give away results. Just an idea.

        For reference

        • You do know MSR is on a saturday? But yeah bring the world cup back! (and drop that ‘monuments’ pastiche, it’s dull, it’s an over-simplification and it’s been invented by some journo-hacks only a couple of years ago)

      • Your last point about having more varied races is also interesting. If the races are too varied you won’t get all the big names in them. Obviously you don’t want all the races going over the same farm tracks in Belgium though. In my opinion the races, say in my imaginary world cup, have to be different but within the capabilities of the riders you want to be doing them. Like, is there any point including Lombardia in a championship when it is only open to out and out climbers and Pogacar is the only rider doing the rest of the series likely to bother entering it? If you are a race organiser today and you have your (one day) race and you ask ‘can this race be won by van der Poel/Van Aert/Ganna (arguably Alaphilippe and Evenepoel too) and the answer is no, then you need to have a serious rethink in my opinion. That’s who people want to watch (I haven’t included Pogacar because I don’t think there is a race he absolutely can’t win). Anyway, I’ve gone off on a tangent.

        • Yes, I agree with everything you say.

          In truth I am looking at this news story and grabbing onto it because it supports my long held view (that no one does or likely should care about) because it basically says – **if the riders don’t care why should we** – and for me that’s clearly down to repetitive races in the same places (Flanders/France), a lack of variation in those races and as you point out, the best riders not competing against each other often enough.

          I also do not think races should be plopped in the middle of nowhere where no one cares but that’s the extreme opposite of multiple races in the same cycling heartland – we have seen places in the Olympics and Road Champs, as well as lesser races, that clearly have a cycling fanbase that could be built on year on year with the right kind of infrastructure and with races that actually mattered.

          I feel like the big question for cycling is how to make every race actually matter and until they figure that (or even try to) cycling will struggle to grow aside from when a new country finds a star… which means it ebbs and flows rather than consistently grows.

          The long term answer would be a smarter calendar, the short term answer would be differentiation as Strade Bianchi has proven. As the ownership of races, teams and everything else is so chaotic there is simply no hope for change and those who bang on about liking the quaint nature of a niche sport and holding onto heritage despite declining interest have won the argument before it’s even begun.

          I firmly believe you could have it all – a sport that celebrates its history and traditional home countries as well as a sport which welcomes new fans from around the world that is equipped to grow.

          It will not happen so I will simply write the same thing here a few times a year in the hope someone who shares my view with the means to change it reads and does so one day… LOL.

          But inevitably it also would mean losing or relegating to a second tier or changing timings of certain races to accommodate other changes which would rub many people up the wrong way – luckily though those who would get angry at GW becoming a ‘championship’ race for a second division don’t need to worry as it won’t…

          ps I love Lombardia actually, that’s the only thing I disagree with you on – I think it’s a shame it so late in the year and basically no one cares aside from absolute die hards.

          • I love Lombardia too as it happens. But whilst the cross you have chosen to die on/regularly comment on is the repetitiveness and backward looking nature of the calendar mine is the route of Lombardia! It has become far too hilly. There was a time a few years ago when there was a clamour to get Froome, Contador and Nibali racing against each other more often. At the time Nibali was the only cyclist that the Italian public at large could name. At the same time the route of Lombardia got backloaded with steeper and steeper hills closer and closer to the finish. Nearly everyone disputes it with me but 2009-2011 era Phil Gil would not be winning Lombardia on its routes pretty much ever since then. Neither would Bettini. Anyway, I really have gone off on a tangent now.

      • Yeah, why bother about watching Grand Tours every year, if the always climb the same old mountains gain and again on same roads? Flanders is too small to have more than 1 race, for pete’s sake.
        Give the old men a break.

        • It is notable how many races visit a small corner of Flanders, the area is almost 14,000 square kilometres but a lot of the races aim for a small piece of this. If you visit to ride the famous climb you sort of know the climbs are going to be steep and rough, what’s striking is how small this area is where 90% of the are in.

          Now you can see why because of the way the cobbled climbs break up the race, they make good racing etc but it can be hard to tell which race is on at times. The Tour or Giro might visit the Ventoux, Tourmalet or Stelvio often but it’s usually every few years rather than six times in a month 😉

          • The Tour has got repetitive in recent years. I could live without seeing a finish at Planche des Belle Filles for a few years, or that airport in the Massif Central.

      • It’s not that he doesn’t feel it’s important or valuable. It’s just that he feels others – Monuments – are more important or valuable. Then there’s the whole team dynamic thing we don’t know about. Letting Laporte have the G-W win may well pay dividends at more than one Monument or in a major tour stage.

  2. I see that the cavalcade of Belgian former riders have piled in to criticise WvA for allowing Laporte to win…but I think all the comments about him living to regret it and missing the chance to break records etc, misses one important detail about Van Aert…it is pretty clear that he is a team player, and a family man, and I strongly suspect that part of the reason he enjoys racing on the road, is that he gets to be part of something bigger than himself – so whilst he may get to the end of his career without having broken records, I can imagine that rather than harbor regrets, he will instead bask in the satisfaction of having helped setup victory for his friend.

    • Most of them didn’t really criticize him for it, although some said he might regret it later, or that they wouldn’t have done it, or that they would have advised against it if they had been asked, etc. Don’t confuse headlines and context-free “quotes” with the much more nuances things that were really said…

    • LOL, they should have been more careful and made it a dead heat, with both as winners.
      Problems solved, and they can still split the spoils with the team.

  3. One thing that struck me yesterday afternoon (and others more qualified than I think the same) was what happened to the chase? No doubt Wout van Aert & Christophe Laporte are very good riders but there was a large group behind who indulged in minutes of “no I insist, after you” tactics which let the two ride away untroubled by any sort of organised pursuit. Its no good Patrick Lefevere complaining about lack of results if his DSs cant get the riders organised or to get on the phone to the other teams to agree who does the chasing, they seem to manage it in other races.

    We are now going to get a month of Roglic v Evenepoel hype before the kick off along the shores of the Adriatic however cycling so often throws surprises perhaps fate or one of the other riders might yet come to disrupt the “Mano a Mano” media narrative.

    • I was hoping Thomas might steal some limelight if he was at the same form as last year’s TdF, but he seems to be still recovering from his “illness” (whatever that was). Lots of “Golden Oldies” though to cheer on, Caruso, Uran and back from near retirement, Pozzovivo and Pinot of course. If UAE are smart then they could use Almeida and Vine if they don’t lose too much time on the TT’s.

    • There is nothing to organize for QS. They had only one rider in a chasing group with Tim Merlier. Why would anyone drag the fastest man to the line? QS should have several riders in a group, like they used to.
      Now they have some individuals her an there. The Phillipsen move to bridge from one to another unpromising chase group was the most pointless and desperate tactic I’ve ever seen by a Lefevre team.

  4. One of your best lines ever.

    “Staying in Italy, if riders in pro cycling get nicknames based in the longstanding “activity + home” formula, which has given us monikers from the Eagle of Toledo to the Manx Missile, the “Cat Sniper of San Marino”, aka Antonio Tiberi is still in the news.”

    Literally on the floor laughing.

    • I was wondering if it’s a bit harsh but in the absence of any results, and his charisma hasn’t built up a following, it’s the heuristic many will leap to. Been tipping him for some time here and he was set to target the Giro but that looks off now.

      • I hope he is eventually forgiven. He seemed quite genuinely sorry, in the article I read. Certainly he’s not the first young man to do something very stupid with an air rifle. A stretch of community service at an animal shelter would be better than ending his career.

  5. Shame to hear about the Tour du Pays de Vaud and the state of cycling in the UK (according to Ineos’s Hart). Juniors need to race too.
    Lefevere needs to think more about how much he wants to support Remco with GT doms then his lunch.
    It was written somewhere about, it’s better to give then receive, but also second place means you get to a warm shower first!

    • Very worrying news. The young ones need to race. Absolutely. Junior races are needed, and fun to follow. If even the Swiss cannot afford it, who will?

    • Whilst The Women’s Tour is struggling to find a sponsor GB women are really starting to make a mark, culminating in 1-2 (and 6 in the top 15!) in the GW Juniors race. Surely they can find the money somewhere!

      • I hope that the turmoil after the banking collapses will have calmed down by the end of the Summer so sponsors can be found for the ladies and juniors for next year.

          • Yes, when one major women’s team is EF Education-TIBCO-SVB (guess what the SVB stands for). This is North America’s longest running women’s cycling team, and it’s now in danger.

          • Do you think the team will fold without SVB’s contribution? EF’s got plenty of dough and perhaps EasyPost will jump in to make up the budget hole since they already sponsor the men? I really have a hard time thinking any banking crisis is going to make a huge deal when it comes to pro cycling. I’m thinking of the 2008 meltdown and can’t think of teams that vanished due to lack of funding caused by that, but maybe I’m forgetting?

          • Doesn’t matter what I think. Google the subject, last I saw there had been no public comment yet and what you think EF or Easypost should do with their money doesn’t matter, either.

            Were there teams with failed banks as primary sponsors in 2008? On the broader subject, I think there are plenty of examples of teams losing funding and and status (or their very existence) when a sponsor had financial difficulty, some quite recently. Surprised you’re not aware of that.

  6. G-W seems a big race to “gift” to a teammate but ultimately WVA’s already got one G-W in the bag so a second doesn’t seriously enhance his palmares. For such an amazing rider though he’s still “only” got one Monument in the bag, and he really needs to grab a few more to secure his position amongst the all-time greats. And to that end I’m guessing there’ll not be a more motivated rider than Laporte to help his leader come Flanders and Roubaix.

  7. Believe there is a small mistake in your first sentence.
    Last year’s E3, Laporte and Van Aert also came in together but it was Van Aert who took the win.
    But still huge generosity from Van Aert, such a classy rider!

    • Fixed, thanks. The next two Sundays are the big goals for WvA but obviously it won’t be easy, although having what looks like the strongest team is a big asset. Just how to go about using it?

      • How to go about using it is an interesting question. What Van Aert wants to avoid is a Terpstra-Boonen scenario like 2014 Roubaix. But there’s more than one teammate who has the depth to potentially turn a decoy into a winning move.

      • I think both Jumbo Visma and UAE have to try and blunt Van der Poel’s explosivity as much as possible. I don’t think sending riders up the road in a breakaway will do it, Alpecin are sufficiently strong with the likes of SKA, Hermans and Vermeersch to play that game themselves. Plus Van der Poel will probably attack and ride over to them. I think they need to keep the tempo as high as they can for as long as they can, team time trial the last 150km and burn a rider on every berg! They should probably hope it’s cold and wet too. Maybe try something from miles out and isolate him if he ever drifts further back, like Quick Step did on the Muur the year Gilbert won.

        • Jumbo, I would guess, will use men up the road as a safeguard if van der Poel or Pogacar attacks. It means too van Aert can just follow attacks. If UAE or Alpecin do the same thing, then Jumbo won’t mind van Baale or Benoot winning instead, and keeping van der Poel and Pogacar away from their teammates.

    • Also something missing in “Belgian viewers on both sides of the and more have plenty to look forward to.” And from Wallonie to Catalonia, I must find inappropriate the “entertaining” qualifyer. Not that it wasn’t entertaining. It’s that it was more than that. It was excellent racing, in my opinion.

  8. Team mates finishing a race having trounced the peloton , currently jumbo robo bananas,scissors , paper ,rock at flame rouge, 1 km . It’s a UCI rule coming next year.
    More than 2 , director nominates the two.

  9. There’s something to be said about the level of competition, maybe more the commitment of the competition, at GW when Ewan is third up the Kemmelberg when the two JV’s attacked. I was so hoping he’d stay on and just suck wheels all the way to finish. Seeing the JV’s trying to dislodge him would have been good entertainment

  10. A nice pair of wins by Groves. Don’t know how fast he is but his positioning and movement in the bunch was confident. Something for Robbie McEwan to smile about perhaps.

  11. So whose great idea is it to ask for €2.000/yr for signing a developmental rider? Gianni Savio? Some other Conti team owner?

    In a sport that is already suffering from the haves and have nots with budget this seems greedy.

    Many of these junior riders sign development contracts that pay a percentage of their earnings back to their agents/sponsors until they buy them out.

    Don’t like the UCI forcing a fee.

      • They can have an agent. I think there’s been talk of not allowing it but don’t think it’s happened. On the theoretical side, a junior can benefit from an agent as the agent’s not going to get rich from them (many work on a 0% fee for early years, hoping to cash in later once the renewal contract is big) and the rider and their famly can get advice they need. On the practical side, riders and can’t sign with a new team until 1 August but of course deals are done long before so good luck.

    • “In a sport that is already suffering from the haves and have nots with budget this seems greedy.”
      Yep, who would want a team with mega-budget being forced to hand over a pittance to a lower-level team? What’s next, socialism?

  12. I really don’t understand those who think Van Aert may regret gifting the win to Laporte because he will be missing a win on his palmares when comparing to other great riders.
    Are these people assuming that in the future such comparisons will be made by AI bots, which are poorly programmed so they don’t take into account what actually happened?
    Gifting a big classic like this while he could have obviously won it makes him a better rider from my point of view, not a worse one.

    • We don’t know, of course, but as Michael B hinted upthread, “arrangements” are common enough. It’s quite possible that WvA “gifted” this win because he’s got bigger fish in mind.

  13. With regard to that so called gifted finish, it gave me a feel good factor about cycling, and judging by the wider media reports, I wasn’t alone. Such gestures as 2 team mates who have worked together to take the win for the team crossing the line arm in arm touches us somehow. In the grand scheme of things I feel the real winners here were cycling and the sponsor.

  14. “Or does the team car get involved with commercial decisions from contractual matters to the marketing preferences of sponsors getting involved?”
    Not always: I remember once where Walter Planckaert (Palmans-Ideal) came to the jury after a stage of Tour of Denmark (1998) where Brian Holm (Team Acceptcard) and Frank Høj (Palmans-Ideal) came to the finish and did not contest the sprint. He was furious and wanted us to DQ his own rider Frank Høj for not sprinting his chances. He had to be, the victory was handed to Holm, so his rider was only second. But 2 very popular Danish riders in a Danish stage race; what could he do?
    Mr. Høj had to pay a lot of beer that evening at the bar to calm down Mr. Planckaert 😉

  15. I read somewhere these guys can swap bikes – their saddle height, etc. are identical so when/if WVA has a “SRAM moment” (like was rumored with the chain lube caper) he’s got an exact replacement bike at-the-ready. Could be especially important the next two Sundays?

      • Prudencio Indurain comes to mind though I don’t recall BigMig gifting him any victories…he already knew his place no doubt?
        rob md wrote: “…although we saw at the TdF last year that a little ‘un like Vingegaard had problems.” which means?

          • Somehow I missed (or forgot about) that? And that was BEFORE they switched to SRAM! Have they changed anything since – as in having another rider closer to the Dane’s size ala Banesto/BigMig?

        • Thanks to the wonders of the interweb, I was able to watch the signing-in at the Paris-Nice stages and I think I commented here that Vingegaard is so small compared to his team mates that he looked like a child at a men’s race. You can see on the clip (kindly linked here) of Vingegaard’s problems trying to ride his team mate’s bikes.

  16. So Trek will ditch Tiberi for the cat caper while keeping Simmons post-racist rants? In Italy I guess that shouldn’t be too surprising since where I live cats are protected…supposedly neutered and micro-chipped as part of a “colony” though somehow the number of them seems to never go down. People leave food out for them which of course makes a mess, but I’m not a cat-lover so who cares what I think?

    • It is my impression that Trek – Segafredo acted as a US team out of concern for what dimensions the PR damage in the U.S.A could take if not acted upon promptly.
      It is my recollection of the Simmons case that there were never any rants, just a tweet indicating that he supported Trump and an emoji – a raised black hand – that was rghtly or wrongly interpreted as racist.
      Now you can deny, like Simmons did, that the emoji was not intended to be seen that way, but when the cat is found shot dead, you can only claim you didn’t expect to actually hit it or that you imagined the projectile would be harmless at that distance…

      PS Astana had already signed the maximum number of riders, so they had to demote a rider before they could sign Mark Cavendish – and I imagine they will have to repeat the procedure before August if they are intent on signing Antonio Tiberi?

      • Maybe I’m wrong but I can’t see the cat caper being a big deal in the USA vs Italy for the reasons I noted. Look at how many people shoot PEOPLE there for example…and nothing much gets done about stopping it.

      • There are aspects of these stories we see and parts we don’t. Tiberi’s problem is not just killing a cat, it’s that he did this, it involved a minister in the microstate where he lives and the first the team learned of this was when they saw it as news on social media last month. There’s a possible breakdown in trust here, it’s not just the “crime”, it’s the conduct too.

  17. Elisa Longo Borghini recently did NOT gift a stage to her young teammate, and was roundly criticised by fans. Despite it being team orders to secure the GC.

    That situation is different to the Gent scenario, but in both cases it looks like all riders involved are happy with the outcomes.

    SD Worx is the outlier. But just like WVA, it’s not as if Kopecky’s palmeres is diminished by not picking up a second Strade.

    All’s well that ends well.

    • Well, Realini paced ELB all the way up that last climb at the UAE Tour, and the team saying ELB needed the win for the GC was nonsense, there was nobody within a minute on GC. I think Realini should have been given that stage as she deserved it.
      Laporte and Van Aert is different. Van Aert was clearly the stronger. This was an undeserved gift, done purely out of Van Aert’s generosity, though it may well be repaid in future races.
      It would be interesting to get both riders’ views on it in 10 years time. Will WvA regret it? Will Laporte look back on it as a great addition to his palmares or will it always be spoken of with the prefix ‘but’. I know there will be no asterisk in the history books but for as long as anyone can remember it it will always be mentioned as a gift, so lacking glory.

      • What about the TdF stage 18 in 2020? Carapaz was clearly stronger than Kwiatkowski and it wasn’t a case of Kwiato pacing Carapaz all the way.

        I’m not saying it was an undeserved gift, but it was rightly seen as a reward for the work he had done for the team in a number of other races and stages.
        Laporte, too, has worked for the team and raced in accordance with the team’s strategy also when it has diminished his own chances. And it wasn’t like he sat all day on a team mate’s wheel on Sunday, either.

        Granted, a one-day race that is counted among the cobbled classics a bit different from a stage. But I have difficulty in seeing one gifted win as all that different from any other gifted win – or, indeed, any need to see an asterisk next to Laporte’s name.

        • For me Kwiatkowski being given that TdF stage felt more earned because he’d been with Sky/Ineos for several years & had ridden half a dozen grand tours for them as a domestique without having a stage win, whereas Laporte is only in his 2nd year with Jumbo Visma & already had a win gifted to him last year. However I may be biased as the first TdF I watched properly was 2017 so Kwiatkowski was one of the first domestiques I saw in action & I’ve liked him since then, whereas I have no particular interest in Laporte.

      • The memory of the day for WvA and Laporte might well not be the win, whoever gets it, it’ll be the way they won together and the bond this forms. Riding away from the field and being able to decide who crosses the line first is a special feeling. If anyone’s raced and done this before the memory of all of this can live on longer than the result or the race itself.

        • Well put. I think it can be hard for spectators to understand the riders’ perspective – we get a day of entertainment, a few days of highlights & discussion, and some details in the record books. But the riders don’t just get a notch on their palmares – they lived and breathed the day, and the experience and feelings it created will live on in them…me and old friends still reminisce today about bike races we won and podiumed many years ago, and they were just lowly amateur races! Riding away from the field in GW with a teammate isn’t something that will quickly be forgotten or recalled with regret, I’d expect…

        • Exactly this. Everyone is assuming that the actual win is the most important thing that will love in their memories when in fact it might be that together they rode away from the World Tour field and earned a 1-2 for their team.

    • I was also surprised by that comment. Not good enough on that fated day on the Planche, but since then winner of Olympic TT gold. Evenepoel finished 9th in Tokyo.

        • well if we are going to find excuses for time trial loses then i’ll add this; Remco trained specifically to peak for last years’ Vuelta, while Roglics’ participation was a very last minute decision after his crash at the Tour, without proper GT training. Hopefully, they both have a safe and healthy Giro, and time will tell…..

  18. What about Roglic ‘gifting’ the final stage of Catalunya to Evenepoel? I thought their dynamic was fascinating for the whole race, including turning some of the less obvious stages into GC contests. On the long climbs Remco never looked like he buried himself (easy to say from my sofa), i.e. he was often looking around a lot, perhaps worried about being countered. He would put in a few obvious attacks, but I can’t help but think that if he put in a sustained 100% effort from a longer distance then he may have cracked Roglic. Regardless, it sets up a fascinating contest for the Giro (even if others don’t seem to have a chance of competing for the top step)

  19. Contador gifted to Paolo Tiralongo – Astana, ex team mate – a stage in the Giro. Was the first stage win of Paolo. Next year he pay back at the Vuelta, in the great performance of Alberto in Fuente De

  20. On gifting, this is still the greatest display in my book, Jalabert/Dietz, Vuelta 95, stage 12:
    On anecdotes, good sportsmanship, Tour of Denmark 2003, stage 3: 4 riders had broken from the peloton; Jaocb Piil, Johan Museeuw, Kurt-Asle Arvesen, Serhiy Honchar.
    With 1′ to the bunch, Museeuw calls for drinks from neutral and while he has his bidon raised, Jacob Piil has a puncture. Museeuw imediately points to Piil’s bike asking neutral to service Piil before his feeding. Once Piil got back on, Museeuw quietly slips down to the neutral and picks up a new bidon. And at app. 1500 m before the line he leaves them standing, soloing to the line 😉

Comments are closed.