Dec 20, 2010

Last week in cycling

Here are some items from last week in cycling that I thought are worth a mention. 

Luxembourg Cycling Project finally unveiled its main sponsor. The team will officially be called Team Leopard, named after the management company run by Bryan Negaard, who assembled the team. I may be failing to recall something, but I think this is the first pro team with an animal’s name as its title. Or at least the only one operating now. Considering the fact that pro teams are typically sponsored by major brand names, and relatively few companies are named after animals, this lack of the animal species from the peloton is quite understandable. I do hope, however,  that with a name like "Leopard," the team doesn’t come up with some ridiculous team kit. Nevertheless, I think that a TTT with all riders dressed in leopard spotted kits, with similarly colored bikes could be quite a show. 

The Tour of California may no longer be the biggest U.S. tour attracting great talent. Quizno’s Pro Challenge, to be held in Colorado next year, promises to have some A-level talent in the peloton. Among the teams participating are: Radioshack, HTC, Garmin-Cervelo, BMC and Liquigas. This race is scheduled for August 2011 and with some big team names already committed to this tour, it remains to be seen what that means for the makeup of the Vuelta peloton.  I’m also going to be very interested in seeing who of the riders  will commit to riding the Tour of Colorado after having just finished the Tour de France. Between post ToC rest, Vuelta aspirations and the Tour of Colorado commitments, this first iteration of the race is sure to have some rough patches. But I hope that it is a continuation of an effort to bring more top level cycling talent to the states. Perhaps one day, Tour of U.S.A. will be a grand tour all the European teams will be dying to be a part of.

Speaking of Tour of California. As last year, this year, the mortal amateur riders will have a chance to ride one of the tour’s stages in its entirety. On May 7th, riders will have the opportunity to tackle Stage 7 of the ToC from Claremont to Mt. Baldy. The event is called L’√Čtape du California, and the route is supposed to be over 100 miles with more than 10,000 feet of elevation gain, although hasn't officially been released. Personally, I’m still debating whether I want to do this ride in light of my personal race schedule, but it seems to offer a great experience, as well as the opportunity to scout some observation locations for when the pro peloton comes rolling by. 

If it’s not one alleged doper making the news, it’s another. Floyd Landis is at it again. Apparently, Landis has been playing detective. He’s been wearing a wire and gathering video evidence which he then promptly delivered to the FDA personnel in charge of the investigation. It seems to me that Floyd has once again gone off the deep end. In the first installment, he was so delusional about his own innocence that he had no issues defrauding hundreds of people into donating money to help him prove his innocence mislead WADA and the UCI. Now, after coming forward with what is supposed to be the truth, Landis is apparently obsessed with putting people behind bars, or at least getting them in trouble. I just can’t get a mental picture out of my mind of Landis pointing to his emails yelling, “I told you so!” How many lives does he plan on screwing up just to show that in a pile of lies there was one shred of truth? No one really knows, but if I were a pro cyclist, the only place I’d talk to Landis would be in the shower, although who knows to what lengths he’ll go to conceal that microphone. 

In a bit of sad news, it appears that sprinters Robbie McEwen and Robbie Hunter will be without a job next year, or at least without a pro team. Team Pegasus of Australia was denied a pro license by the UCI today and the registration is closed. It is yet possible that Team Pegasus will qualify for a continental license. So what’s the lesson to be learned from all of this? If you’re a Luxembourg team without a big name sponsor, but with Schecks and Concellara on board, you get a 4-year license, no questions asked. But if you’re a team from Australia with strong, but less notorious talent, you are SOL. Robbie McEwen expressed his frustrations on twitter, tweeting earlier, “50 people out of work. 25 great riders w/out a team.” I guess on the brighter side of things, should Pegasus continue to exist, they should be able to rack up quite a few wins on a less strenuous circuit.

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